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Home  >  Features  >  Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: August 24, 2016

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Geoff takes a look at a new batch of first issues, this time it's LAKE OF FIRE #1, GODZILLA: RAGE AGAINST TIME #1, SIX PACK & DOG WELDER: HARD TRAVELIN HEROEZ #1, BLUE BEETLE: REBIRTH #1, KINGSWAY WEST #1, DEATHSTROKE #1, and HELLBLAZER #1!

 

 

LAKE OF FIRE #1 (Image Comics)-

4.0 Stars

The Crusades meet Aliens in the latest creator owned comic from Image Comics; LAKE OF FIRE #1. Created by Nathan Fairbairn and Matt Smith, LAKE OF FIRE #1 features a range of diverse characters in the middle ages who are confronted with some sort of alien threat that is a result of a crashed spacecraft. The mix of history and science fiction is a fun twist on an established trope. The colorful cast includes the aloof knight of a powerful house out to prove his mettle in combat, the sullen old warrior who has seen too much of death, and the religious catholic inquisitor who sees heresy around every corner. They all have their true worth tested when the come upon a village in terror from 'demons'. When these demons turn out to be quite real and quite vicious aliens the Crusaders are faced with a threat more fearsome than any foe or heretic. Nathan Fairbairn quickly establishes characters with concise dialogue and a welcome absence of heavy narration. We learn in short interactions all we need to know to form initial opinions of the members of the group that can act as a starting point for their own individual character progression throughout the story. This issue felt accurate for its time period in that the characters were not larger than life heroes or villains, just men placed in the most extreme of circumstances. The art by Matt Smith is nothing that will blow readers away with its depth or style but it does convey character emotion and expression extremely well and the simple pencils work well with the muted color pallet. LAKE OF FIRE #1 was good but not great. Featuring a nice twist on an story we have seen many times in the past this issue was well written and well drawn and definitely worthy of your time.

 

GODZILLA: RAGE AGAINST TIME #1 (IDW Publishing)-

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IDW Publishing and author Jeremy Robinson are viewing Godzilla through the lens of history with GODZILLA: RAGE AGAINST TIME #1. Our journey begins in Japan in the year 1274 A.D. The invading Mongol horde brings with them the monsters Gigan and Megalon but two Japanese warriors are tasked with a quest to bring their countries own monster into the fight. Everything comes crashing down when Godzilla enters the fray and lays waste to all sides. As we flash back to the present we are introduced to Professor Thompson and his graduate student who are investigating ancient catastrophes that have been attributed to natural disasters but it is his belief that all these events across the ancient world are connected and can be attributed to Godzilla himself. The idea to follow Godzilla through time is inventive and novel but the only problem is that the entire event was crammed into one issue and as such suffered from lack of character motivation, pacing, and overall storytelling. Everything was so rushed that the issue felt jarring and disconnected especially with Godzilla only showing up in the last few pages. The next issue points to ancient Greece as the setting so if this trend continues it seems to be a really unique and interesting idea to follow the king of all monsters through the passage of time and see what events he has influenced. Matt Frank uses his pencils to continue the theme by drawing events in a style reminiscent of ancient Japanese art that really stands out, hopefully the next issue will do the same and reflect the art of that time period accordingly. This is a fantastic idea with amazing art direction that is mired by rushed storytelling. I almost wish we could spend more time in each epoch to allow the story to breath more but only future issues will reveal if that is to the case. As it stands I think this issue would be fun to flip through in the store but would only be a buy for the hardcore fans of Godzilla.

 

SIX PACK & DOG WELDER: HARD TRAVELIN HEROEZ #1 (DC Comics)-

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Garth Ennis is back and having fun writing about the biggest losers in DC Comics with SIX PACK & DOG WELDER: HARD TRAVELIN HEROEZ #1. After the events of the Section 8 series the team is all but disbanded. Dog Welder has gone in search of his past, Bueno and Guts are having relationship issues, Baytor is too busy flirting with Catwoman, and Six Pack is again alone at the bar trying to figure out where it all went wrong. As he strives to get the band back together Dog Welder is approached by a Englishmen in a trench coat with a penchant for Silk Cut cigarettes who informs him that there may be more to his past that he realizes. This series is really dumb but it is a pretty funny read and Ennis is obviously hamming it up as much as possible. Everything from the ridiculous characters to the funny portrayals of DC Comic mainstays like Power Girl, Catwoman, and Starfire serve to drive the point home that this book solely exists so that Garth Ennis can goof off in the DC Universe again like he did with Hitman. As fun as the scenes in the bar were to read the Constantine cameo was my favorite part. Nobody has ever written John Constantine as well as Ennis and it was great to his voice again in my head as I read his dialogue. Ennis writes him so well that he jumps off the page straight into my imagination even when he is not even shown in the art. Russell Braun captures the grotesque nature of the characters quite well and while it can be offensive to look at the art is really well done. Don't go into this comic looking for anything more than a rather juvenile but extremely fun look as some oddball characters that give Garth Ennis the opportunity to poke fun at DC Comics, well... that and an awesome cameo by John Constantine. Pick this series up if you want a laugh.

 

BLUE BEETLE: REBIRTH #1 (DC Comics)-

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DC Comics is giving readers not one but two Blue Beetles in BLUE BEETLE: REBIRTH #1 from long time writer Keith Giffen and artist Scott Kolins. Jamie Reyes has been the Blue Beetle since the pre-Flashpoint universe and the mystical elements of the scarab were re-invented to make it a piece of technology from a race known as The Reach. Following the current trend of Rebirth bringing characters back to their roots, BLUE BEETLE: REBIRTH #1 brings Ted Kord back into the picture but this time acting as a mentor to Jaime. Ted has his technological skills and his beetle hover car but plays the role of a support character as opposed to his crime fighting days of the past. Giffen does a good job of mixing old with new and making it all feel seamless. This issue first re-establishes Kord as a factor in the world of the Blue Beetle and then throws Jaime into a fight with some hard hitting metas working for a mysterious woman who takes great concern when learning that Jaime is not acting on his own. The real twist, and my favorite part, is when the DC way back machine comes into play again as Dr. Fate reveals to Ted Kord that the scarab is a magical item and not the alien tech we have come to know since Jaime took over. What this means for both of the Blue Beetles remains to be seen but it is a great way to launch a new series and will ensure readers come back to see how the first arc plays out. The art by Scott Kolins is bright and fun but not stylish or jaw dropping. It is more than serviceable and tells the story well but it is the characters and the ongoing mystery of the scarab that will be bringing readers back to this title, not the art. I definitely feel readers should check out the Rebirth issue and the first issue of the ongoing title at least to see how it hits them.

 

KINGSWAY WEST #1 (Dark Horse Comics)-

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Alternate histories are great playgrounds to explore new storytelling ideas and this week Dark Horse Comics has released KINGSWAY WEST #1 featuring a very different version of the old west. Writer Greg Pak has built a world in which a rare element has empowered a small Chinese enclave in the west and the ensuing war with Mexico over that element has left the land twisted and scarred. Enter Kingsway West, a Chinese loner who wanders the wild lands trying his best to put the horror of war behind him. When he wife goes missing after an attack from the Chinese Golden City Kingsway West must go back to his old ways to track her down. As fun as a magical version of the old west can be there was nothing in this story that really seemed to grab hold of that potential and run with it. Kingsway West himself feels like Clint Eastwood's character from Unforgiven, an old warrior who has found peace and takes up the fight again when his loved ones are threatened. There is not much new to that character and the use of the magical 'red gold' mcguffin feels uninspired. I feel that there was nothing about this new world or the main character that drew me into it. The art by Mirko Colak did not help things either. While the character art and design elements are fine the panel to panel flow is completely off. There were numerous points in this first issue where I felt like transitions from one panel to the next were missing like dropped frames in a video game. Overall I feel this comic was a miss on both story and art and it did not have any hooks that would bring me back for issue number two.

 

DEATHSTROKE #1 (DC Comics)-

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A direct continuation of the Rebirth issue, DEATHSTROKE #1 from DC Comics picks up were we left off with Slade Wilson causing havoc across the globe. Written by Christopher Priest, the first issue of the new Deathstroke ongoing title finds the world's greatest assassin rescuing his long time friend Wintergreen from an African warlord. Corrupt U.S. Congressmen, Tribal Warlords, more double crosses than you can count, and the Clock King; this first issue throws it all at readers in a fragmented rush of a story that does not flow well at all. First off, a number one issue should not pick up in the middle of a story and this issue is exactly that. Deathstroke: Rebirth #1 ended on a cliffhanger and this issue is literally the very next panel in that story. While most Rebirth issues were used for world building and a character recap, Priest used the Rebirth issue for Deathstroke to jump right into the story arc he wanted to tell and while it hurt the score of that issue it really brings this follow up down as well. Priest jumps between time periods and locations so fast and with so little explanation that I found this issue incredibly hard to follow and that is a capital offense in a number one issue which should be designed to pull in new readers. The art by Carlo Pagulayan is by far the best part of this issue with great pencils and a clever use of angles and depth. However, as good as the art is it just cannot save this jittery mess of a story. Centering a book around a villain is a difficult task as it is but introducing this many flash backs, side plots, and double crosses makes it a very difficult read and a book that I feel will be off putting to new readers. I think this issue is one of the few Rebirth relaunches that is a definite pass and readers should focus their attention on some of the stronger titles that will have a future longer than the inevitable 12 issues run this book will endure.

 

HELLBLAZER #1 (DC Comics)-

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Having returned John Constantine to London in the Rebirth issue writer Simon Oliver can begin to tell a new tale involving DC Comics' favorite con artist magician in HELLBLAZER #1. In a nod to his first appearance Constantine is paid a visit by Swamp Thing in order to collect on a favor. It seems Abby has gone missing in The Rot and as always Constantine knows just the right person to help out the big green plant. What made Hellblazer work in the past what the extremely strong character work done with Constantine and his supporting cast of misfits who always managed to get sucked into his chaos. While everyone loves the accent, the silk cuts, and the quippy one liners the trust is that underneath all the bluster and charm John Constantine is not a good person and it is often those closest to him that pay the price. This first issue has three really solid interactions that do a fantastic job of re-establishing Constantine for new readers. No Justice League Dark, no world threatening magic to fight, and no ensemble cast of costumed heroes to pal around with. This is just John alone, back in London and back to his self destructing vices. Long time staples Chaz and Mercury make an appearance, both characters who have paid the price for Constantine's friendship in the past. All this great character work is book ended by a pair of what I think are angels living among humanity. Having spent the last one hundred years observing the brutality of human nature one of the angels has decided that God is no longer paying attention and that he must take matters into his own hands to course correct the status of mankind. This is a great way to set up a new story, one that Constantine can stumble into and attempt to manipulate events to his own advantage. Moritat provides solid pencil work that fits the material well. His art is slightly stylized with a heavy emphasis on thick black lines and flat textures. The dreariness of the of the art reflects both London and Constantine himself and appropriately sets the tone for the book. Having read and loved all the Ennis, Ellis, and Azzarello issues of Hellblazer I have a real affinity for the character and I like what I have seen from Oliver so far. The setting and tone are spot on he seems to incorporating the supporting cast right out of the gate. I have high hopes that this is the Hellblazer comic readers have been waiting for and I am excited to see what happens in the next issue. I feel this is one of the stronger titles to come out of Rebirth and it is one that everyone should pick up.

 

Don't just take our word for it. Grab the books yourself and let us know what you think!

 

More Reviews on MightyVille:

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: August 17, 2016

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: August 10, 2016

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: August 03, 2016

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