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Home  >  Features  >  Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: December 14, 2016

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Geoff takes a look at a new batch of first issues, this time it's OPTIMUS PRIME #1, TRANSFORMERS: LOST LIGHT #1, IVX #1, HAWKEYE #1, and ROCKSTARS #1!

 

 

OPTIMUS PRIME #1 (IDW Publishing)-

2.0 Stars

The Revolution event is over and with its end comes the release of OPTIMUS PRIME #1, the first of two new number one issues released this week from IDW Publishing. Written by John Barber with art by Kei Zama, OPTIMUS PRIME #1 goes back in time to show how Orion Pax eventually becomes the great autobot leader we all know today as Optimus Prime. In between flashbacks readers learn about the fallout of the Revolution crossover and the new status quo for Earth.

This is a case in which a book is telling two disparate stories at the same time with no real connective tissue between them. In the past Orion Pax is a clean cop in a corrupt world. Tensions are brewing between what will become Autobots and Decepticons while the ruling body of Cybertron is mired in political corruption. In the present the Autobots are out in force to attempt to keep cybertronian technology out of the hands of humans. While the plots of the two timelines seem to have little in common one thing they do share is that in both cases Optimus Prime is an asshole. The hero who fought for the rights of all sentient beings has been replaced in all media by the new movie Prime who is obsessed with killing and ripping off faces. Both in the past as a cop trying to solve a murder and in the present as an alien leader forcing his will on others with the threat of violence, this new version of Optimus Prime is an obnoxious character that is not fun to read.

The art by Zama is sketchy and rough with many scenes lacking detail. When dealing with robots as characters the artist must be sure to make each one distinct and this is not the case. Between hectic panel to panel action and the dark tone of the art I found myself lost far more than I should in a book about colorful robots. IDW has been missing the mark with its Transformers line for a while in my opinion and this new series is doing nothing to fix that, at least not right out of the gate. Those invested in the series already will most likely find something in this book to root for but it does not serve as a good jumping on point for any new readers looking to get in on the action.

 

TRANSFORMERS: LOST LIGHT #1 (IDW Publishing)-

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Another new start for Transformers from IDW Publishing comes this week in the form of TRANSFORMERS: LOST LIGHT #1 by James Roberts and Jack Lawrence. There are now three major plot threads in the Transformers universe. The events on Earth, the events on Cybertron, and the events surrounding Rodimus and his crew in deep space. This new series focuses on the latter offers a look at a diverse crew forced to work together.

Having lost their ship Rodimus and Ultra Magnus have cobbled together a transported capable of instantly beaming them back to Cybertron. The goal is to get a new ship and continue their mission but while they were successful in beaming to Cybertron they landed in a parallel universe. The appeal for this book is the idea of a crew forced to sort through differences to achieve a shared goal. Even Megatron has had a change of heart, proudly wearing an Autobot insignia on his chest and helping out where he can. The fault is that like OPTIMUS PRIME #1 this is again another new number one issue that does not serve as a jumping on point for new readers. This issue is full of characters and references that readers would only know if they had already been reading the current series about Rodimus and his crew. As a new reader I was completely lost and it took a half hour of pouring through wikipedia before I had any idea of who some of these characters were and why they were stranded at the beginning of the story.

However the art by Jack Lawrence is very good. The lines are clean and the character designs are distinctive and unique, never once leaving the reader wondering who is who. Bright colors and solid pacing abound from cover to cover making this issue a treat for the eyes and making a rather impenetrable story somewhat easier to dive into. In the end I have the same overall problem with this book that I did with OPTIMUS PRIME #1 and that is the fact that it is not friendly at all to new readers, and to me that is a huge failing for a number one issue. If you have been on board the IDW Transformers train for a while I am sure you will enjoy this continuation of the story, but if you are a fan of the property in more general terms this is not the book for you.

 

IVX #1 (Marvel Comics)-

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The growing tensions between the Inhumans and the X-men finally reach their zenith in IVX #1 from Marvel Comics. Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire share writing duties on this crossover event that has been brewing since the end of Secret Wars. The cloud of terrigen mist that has been spreading all over the world has been bringing new life to the Inhumans while at the same time killing the mutants it comes in contact with. One group needs the mist to live and the other cannot survive while it remains in the atmosphere. The final straw in the conflict comes when Beast reveals that within two weeks the particles will disperse in the atmosphere and cover the globe, rendering the Earth uninhabitable for mutant kind. With the lines in the sand clearly drawn both sides realize they must fight for the survival of their species.

This conflict has been building in the background of the Marvel universe for over a year and the rather disappointing Death of X miniseries did not garner much faith in how this would all play out. However, all doubts aside I was rather impressed with both the zero issue and this first installment of IVX. Soule and

Lemire are some of the top talent at Marvel Comics and it shows in the writing of this issue. The setup paints a bleak picture for the mutants. They are out of time and up against a superior foe who, after the destruction of the first terrigen cloud in Death of X, is more than ready for the impending conflict. Forced to either fight till the death or leave the planet the different factions of the mutant community meet and vote to fight for their right to exists rather than flee. A real sense of desperation is felt in the meeting between Magneto, Beast, Storm, and Emma Frost. It might just be my own fandom clouding my judgement but by the end of the issue all I wanted was the X-men to wipe the floor with the Inhumans. For years the mutants have had their backs against the wall and now this new group has come in, both in universe as well as in Marvel's publishing goals, to try and force the mutants out of the picture. Fans love to root for the underdog and now more than ever the X-men are just that.

The different voices of the X-men ring true and each of them is written exceptionally well, especially with the last few years of events in mind. Beast is pragmatic to a fault, Emma is hurt and angry, Storm is stoic, and Magneto is finally scary again. While the first issue was mostly setup for what is to come the tension built is palpable and for the first time since this crossover was announced I was finally excited for it when I closed the last page. The art by Leinil Francis Yu is fantastic as always though with a slightly different look that what readers might be used to. The pencils are sharper with less of a chaotic look and the colors are deeper. The style is still there and it looks great but there is a subtle difference. I think many fans, myself included, have been lamenting this entire Inhumans vs X-men sub plot that has been running through Marvel Comics for the last few years. It feels forced, a byproduct of real world publishing conflicts but now that the main event is finally starting I am completely on board and hoping this marks the return of the X-men franchise to the forefront of Marvel Comics.

 

HAWKEYE #1 (Marvel Comics)-

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Kate Bishop is awesome and she finally gets her time to shine under the sunny skies of Los Angeles in her own series beginning with this week's HAWKEYE #1 from Marvel Comics. Penned by Kelly Thompson this book picks up where the Matt Fraction series left off with Kate Bishop on her own in LA trying to set up a private detective agency. In a thematic style similar to the current Ms Marvel comic, HAWKEYE #1 is a fun book that does not take itself too seriously with a main character who will make readers smile from cover to cover.

Being a superhero does not always pay that well so Kate has established Hawkeye investigations bring in some much needed funds while still helping people out as the, at least according to her, premier archer in the Marvel universe. She picks up a cyberstalking case and think it is easily closed only to find out the rabbit hole goes far deeper than she initially thought. If I were to use one word to describe this book it would be charming. Kate Bishop is is a great character to read who oozes personality and wit. Hey confidence and dry sense of humor has carried on from the Fraction run including numerous references to Lucky the pizza dog and Clint Barton, the second best archer in the world. There is a particularly funny sequence wherein all of the would be clients who stumble into her office are either looking for the 'real' Hawkeye or an optometrist. The look of exasperation on her face while her first real client shows up is perfect and hilarious.

Pencils by Leonardo Romero complete the title and again carry over the style from the Fraction/Aja run. The art is simple in scope while still bringing lots of detail to the page, especially concerning characters ability to emote. So much of what is going on in Kate's head is conveyed to readers through body language and facial expressions which is especially important for a book that can make people laugh and smile while reading it. I like that the Hawkeye characters have been established as almost self aware when it comes to the fact that they are normal humans with a bow and arrow standing next to gods. While Clint had his time to shine now it's Kate's turn and Kelly Thompson has hit the ground running with an engaging and fantastic start to this new series. I have been pretty down on Marvel Comics lately with books like Slapstick, Prowler, Solo, and Mosaic but HAWKEYE #1 is a sure fire hit that does not miss its target.

 

ROCKSTARS #1 (Image Comics)-

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Image Comics takes a look into the dark side of music with ROCKSTARS #1 by Joe Harris and Megan Hutchinson. Jackie is a young aspiring writer trying to track down some of the mysteries and conspiracy theories surround the legends of rock and roll. Far from hidden tracks or reverse lyrics this story involves the disappearance of two young girls, Suzanne and Becky, who were never seen again after a backstage party until one of their bodies shows up in an LA dumpster.

Joe Harris pens a beautifully written and slightly overly verbose story about the cult of personality that surrounds rock stars. Mostly told via narration from Jackie's point of view it speaks to the lengths one will go just to get a glimpse into the world of a rock god. The endless parties, the girls, and the lifestyle of no limits. Woven into the backstory of how the girls went missing is a rather sinister look at something just beneath the surface, something evil that might give credence to all the tales of demonic worship that surround rock and roll. The first issue lays all of this out and really draws the reader into the world, both with the story of what the girls were up to leading up to their disappearance as well as the current investigation by two amateurs. These two stories come together in a beautifully drawn cliff hanger that will leave the reader wondering just what in the hell is going on.

The art in this over sized first issue is breathtaking from start to finish. Clean pencils with an amazing sense of style and great use of colors all combine to really bring the story together. Half of rock and roll is looking good and this comic achieves that in spades. Megan Hutchinson is a new name to me but it will be one that is on my radar in the future. ROCKSTARS #1 is a slow burn that is overly wordy but a very solid story overall. Hopefully the next few issues pick up the pace a bit and dive further into the mystery at hand instead of sounding like a term paper on rock music in general. I think it is one to keep an eye on and if you can make it past the slow start you will be in for a fun ride.

 

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: December 07, 2016

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: November 30, 2016

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: November 23, 2016

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