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Home  >  Features  >  Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: January 11, 2017

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Geoff takes a look at a new batch of first issues along with a new alternate reality event from Valiant Comics. Here are our thoughts on RED SONJA #1, DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE #1, DIVINITY III: KOMANDAR BLOODSHOT #1, JAMES BOND: FELIX LEITER #1, JLA REBIRTH: VIXEN #1, and DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: FROST GIANT'S FURY #1.

 

 

RED SONJA #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)-

3.0 Stars

The fourth volume of Red Sonja debuts this week with RED SONJA #1 from Dynamite Entertainment. Written by Amy Chu with art by Carlos Gomez this new series starts with a huge twist by dropping Sonja in the middle of modern day Manhattan. When calls to the NYPD come in of a crazy naked woman armed with a sword you know things are off to a strange start. Sonja has been torn from her home by some form of magic and is lost in our world. Guns seem like magic and only one lone beat cop can barely understand her foreign language. In an attempt to take her in peacefully she is committed for a psych evaluation only to learn that her transportation to our world might not have been some magic mishap, but rather the malevolent actions of the evil Kulan Gath.

Red Sonja has always been a fun swords and sorcery book so moving the setting like this is a rather large leap of faith in storytelling. While it opens the door for new readers it could also alienate the smaller yet dedicated fan base. For what it is worth I enjoyed the story and thought it was an interesting way to try something new. Red Sonja has been battling wizards, tyrants, and thieves for years so seeing her go up against New York's finest was a lot of fun. Introducing the lone officer who can speak her language due to the long lost teachings his grandmother is an interesting idea that I feel will play out as the links between our world and hers are established. This issue is a solid cold open to a new story with a satisfying cliffhanger that will get readers to come back for issue number two. How did she get to our world? Is this another dimension or is it time travel? Who is Kulan Gath? And finally, how is this cop able to speak her language. All of these are the kinds of questions that will pull readers in and make them want to pick up issue number two.

Carlos Gomez is very solid on art with a real handle for the action taking place though many of the backgrounds in the more dynamic scenes are just flat mattes with no details. The pencils are clean and characters are easy to identify, an entire new group of characters is introduced in this issue and never once did I have to flip back and forth to try and determine who was who. I think some readers will roll their eyes at this idea for a story line but it is simple fun and I enjoyed it. The writing is solid with some good mysteries to be solved and the art is adequate. At the very least this is one that you should flip through while at your local comic shop and see if it grabs you.

 

DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE #1 (Valiant Comics)-

5.0 Stars.gif

The reality altering conclusion to the Divinity series kicks off with DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE #1 from Valiant Comics. Matt Kindt continues his story about the three Russian cosmonauts who journeyed to the edge of reality only to return to Earth with reality altering powers. The first was Abram Adams who returned to the wife and child he loved, the second was Myshka who returned to a world she could not reconcile. Myshka could not imagine a reality in which the Soviet Union failed so she changed it, the result of that change is the new status quo for the Valiant Comics and their characters... Stalinverse. Think of it as Valiant Comic's version of the Age of Apocalypse. All the same players are there but the world is drastically different and the only ones who seem to recognize the difference are Ninjak and Abrams himself, but does a broken Divinity who has lost his family have what it takes to but reality back to how it should be?

While this story has been building in the first two Divinity volumes author Matt Kindt really kicks it into great with this first issue. He tackles the task of establishing a whole new world and the players in it with only one issue to work with and he pulls it off flawlessly. Even as a fringe reader of Valiant Comics I tore through this issue cover to cover and left it with a firm grasp on who was who and what the new status quo was. The only catch is that if you were wondering how this world came about you will have need to have read the previous two volumes of Divinity, there is no recap or narration describing how this world wide communist regime was established, only that is it not the proper reality and that it needs to be corrected. The small vignettes for each character are tight and build on one another to shape the new reality, all done with a clever interview style by the one hero who knows things are not as they should be. All I can say is that it just works very well, for new readers and old, and never ones feels slow or confusing.

Trevor Hairsine pencils this issue and it looks fantastic. The new design for Bloodshot stand out especially well and he uses the motifs of the old Soviet Block to create a world that has been beaten down into submission. The world is bleak and formal, but not a wasteland. The world wide domination of Soviet Russia is a horrible one to imagine but he holds back in his designs to create a world that while broken is still very livable. I think this is going to be a great event and I hope it brings more attention to Valiant Comics. They have established some great characters and finally get to bend reality in their own sandbox and I think it has played out perfectly with this first issue. This is an easy recommend for all readers with the slight caveat that reading the first two volumes will greatly increase your understanding of how this alternate reality came to be.

 

DIVINITY III: KOMANDAR BLOODSHOT #1 (Valiant Comics)-

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We are bit late on this review but we wanted to include DIVINITY III: KOMANDAR BLOODSHOT #1 to go along with the beginning of the Stalinverse event from Valiant Comics. Penned by Jeff Lemire this issue find Bloodshot being deployed as the ultimate Soviet super weapon. A group of rebel Americans are hiding out in a secret bunker in the mountains of Colorado and Bloodshot has been sent to wipe them out. While the Americans thought they were setting a trap with Rai and Livewire waiting to ambush Bloodshot in the end they were no match for him. With Terminator like efficiency Bloodshot makes short work of all who stand in his way and this book revels in his ferocity. In the midst of the brutality there is a brief snippet of a life long past, before the experiments when Bloodshot was still a man working on a commune. It is this one last tinge of human nature that halts his hand sparing the last woman alive in the compound, it seems she reminds him of someone long forgotten.

This is a simple issue with a straightforward plot but it works with what it has and really sets the tone for just how different this new world is. Bloodshot is everything he was originally designed to be, an unstoppable killer with little to no remorse. The book is beautifully drawn by Clayton Crain in an almost painterly style with amazing detail. This is really a showcase piece of art and I cannot stress enough how good this book looks. Be sure to check out the Matt Kindt backup story that tells the origin of The Red Legend. She is a new character for this alternate universe and is basically a Soviet version of Wonder Woman. It is a small tale that quickly establishes her powers and where her loyalties lie for she is part of the Red Brigade which will be featured prominently in the Stalinverse comics to come. This is another great issue from Valiant Comics but it is definitely more of a side story that adds flavor to the universe as opposed to a central part of the narrative.

 

JAMES BOND: FELIX LEITER #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)-

3.0 Stars.gif

Dynamite Entertainment expands the world of James Bond this week with JAMES BOND: FELIX LEITER #1 from acclaimed writer James Robinson. Spun out of the pages of the current James Bond ongoing series, Felix is an ex-CIA agent who has not only lost part of his soul to war but his body as well. Outfitted by none other than Bond himself with state of the art prosthetics Felix is returning to the field for a mission that he is solely capable for. An old flame by the name of Alena Davoff has made a name for herself in the black market and Felix is one of the only people still alive who can identify her. The mission was suppose to be easy but when confronted by Alena he is immediately made aware of his new physical limitations. Just when it could not get any worse news breaks of a massive terrorist attack in Tokyo, an attack that could only have been carried out with Alena's assistance.

Divorced from the James Bond license this comic would still stand out as the start of a good spy story. A broken soldier going back into the field, a shadow of his former self forced to confront his lost love who has taken a turn to the dark side. All the ingredients are there for a fun story and Robinson delivers. The problem is that while the story is fun there is little present to pull in new readers. Those who have been following the James Bond series from Dynamite will enter into this issue with all the the background information on the relationship between Felix and Bond that they will need. However, new readers like myself will feel lost even with the brief Bond cameo in this issue. I had to go dig up a wiki to figure out what was going on and that is a sign that the book is not new reader friendly. Outside of that complaint I still stand by the fact that this was a fun issue. Felix is an interesting character and the art by Aaron Campbell is solid if not remarkable. Those following the James Bond ongoing should check out this interesting side story and new readers looking for some dark spy action could jump on as well after a brief catch up on the background of Felix and his history.

 

JLA REBIRTH: VIXEN #1 (DC Comics)-

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The next one shot that will set up the new Justice League of America comic comes out this week with DC Comics JLA REBIRTH: VIXEN #1. Penned via a collaboration between JLA writer Steve Orlando and Young Animal star Jody Houser this issue serves as a quick origin story for Vixen. Young Mari was orphaned at a young age and bequeathed a magical amulet. In the years since then she has left that life behind and pursed a role as a model, movie star, reality star, and rather shallow celebrity. This new posh life is torn asunder when Vixen is confronted by a young girl who reached out to her for help only to be ignored. Faced with a loss she could have prevented, a loss similar to her own, Vixen finally takes her family's legacy into her own hands and uses the magical amulet to tap into the power of the animal kingdom and rescue the young girl's mother.

This is the closest to a perfect one shot origin story that comic books can provide. Orlando an Houser distill the essence of Vixen down to 22 pages of streamlined storytelling that covers her backstory and entry into super heroics with impossible ease. Vixen is one of the more obscure characters from DC Comics who has found new resurgence in the last few years. Her large roll in Paul Dini's Justice League Unlimited cartoon started it off and her recent debut into the world of the CW's Arrowverse has sealed her fate as a hot character in the comic book world. That momentum is capitalized upon in this issue perfectly. Her character undergoes the entire heroes journey from disconnected celebrity to a young woman willing to place it all on the line to save the life of a stranger. In a short span she is given believable purpose with a harrowing back story and a completely believable trial of conscious that brings her full circle.

As if the story were not tight enough Jamal Campbell completes the issue with absolutely stunning pencils and colors. Mainly known for his cover work Jamal makes a strong statement for his future in comics with 22 pages of truly amazing art. Every single panel pops off the page with detail and framing. I cannot stress enough how great this book looks. I do not know if his style lends itself to continuing work as an ongoing artist but I hope he does at least an entire mini series in the future because this is a name people should be paying more attention to. This is one of those unexpected books that seems like filler but completely surprises the reader with quality on all fronts. I don't care if you plan to read the new JLA title or not, pick this issue up for a showcase of art and a real 'how to' on telling concise origin stories.

 

DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: FROST GIANT'S FURY #1 (IDW Publishing)-

3.0 Stars.gif

IDW Publishing has returned with another installment in its Dungeons and Dragons series with DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: FROST GIANT'S FURY #1 by Jim Zubb and Netho Diaz. This volume is the third series with this particular group of adventurers. The ending of the Shadows of the Vampire mini series saw the heroes deposited in the frozen lands of the Forgotten Realms and they are neither prepared nor equipped for the dangers ahead. The wounded party finds solace in some caves but it is not long before they are set upon by some troublesome trolls. One hectic battle later and the trolls are dead but the true danger lies with the looming threat of the Frost Giants.

Jim Zubb clearly has a interest in this world more than just a writer working on a licensed property. There is a great introduction at the beginning on this issue that serves as both a letter to the fans as well as a quick recap and character introduction that will bring new readers up to speed. As someone who has not read the previous volumes I can say this was invaluable and allowed me to jump right in and run with the story at hand. The characters are standard D&D archetypes, each unique enough to stand out while at the same time not needed a ton of backstory or explanation for their motivations. DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: FROST GIANT'S FURY #1 is a straight up fantasy adventure tale full of good guys, bad guys, magic, and dragons. It does not try to be anything other than it is and for this reason I think it made for a fun while shallow read. The art by Netho Diaz is serviceable and each character is designed in such as way as to clearly define their role in the group at first glance. I liked the Viking nod with the design of the Frost Giants and enjoyed the art over all. Dungeons and Dragons will not break new ground with epic storytelling or characterization but if you are a fan of the genre and want a fun 6 issue romp through long established lore than look for further.

 

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: January 04, 2017

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: December 28, 2016

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: December 14, 2016

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