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Home  >  Features  >  Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: February 02, 2017

PLANETOID PRAXIS.jpg

 

Geoff takes a look at a new batch of first issues, this time it's THE DREGS #1, PLANETOID: PRAXIS #1, PLANET OF THE APES/GREEN LANTERN #1, STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #1, and BULLSEYE #1!

 

 

THE DREGS #1 (Black Mask Studios)-

5.0 Stars

The homeless and destitute of Vancouver are being snatched off the street in THE DREGS #1 from Black Mask Studios. Penned by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson this dark tale begins with the gruesome murder of a homeless man whose body is then racked and butched like livestock. The meat is neatly processed and served in a restaurant, though we as the reader remain in the dark as to whether or not the customers know what they are eating.the book then shifts to the perspective of another homeless man aimlessly walking through life from one high to the next. His name is never given, instead he uses the names of characters from the books he keeps with him. What ensues in a soft of detective story in which this one man is trying to piece together the mystery of who is killing the homeless and what is the exact goal of this new company funneling money into rejuvenation projects in the Dregs.

I found this book to be gruesome while at the same time oddly captivating. It is a crime mystery but instead of a hard boiled detective as the narrator the story is being told from the perspective of a man most people would rather ignore than engage with. The story is almost entirely told via narration, which would be a sin in most comics, but here it works surprisingly well. It is a noir detective story at its heart and a very good one at that. The first of four issues this installment sets the groundwork for the mystery and introduces the major players while leaving the reader on a gripping cliffhanger that will bring them back for more. With such a small run this is an easy investment and I for one will be picking up all four issues for sure to see how this plays out.

The art by Eric Zawadzki is really something special. The entire world, from the city to the characters, just oozes this dirty aesthetic that makes the reader feel uncomfortable right from the start. Adding to that is some amazing panel work that incorporates the cities grid structure into the layout of the pages. It makes the Dregs itself a character in the story and a terrifying one at that. All in all I think this is another outstanding series from Black Mask Studios, a small publisher that is absolutely killing it with creative talent. Their only problem is their sporadic shipping schedule and the lateness inherent in almost all of their titles. However, with this market as a four issue series those problems should not surface with this particular comic so there is no reason not to pick up this first issue and commit to the final three.

 

PLANETOID: PRAXIS #1 (Image Comics)-

4.0 Stars.gif

The long await sequel to Planetoid is here and it kicks off this week with PLANETOID: PRAXIS #1 from Image Comics. With Cover, words, and art by Ken Garing this comic is a one man show and it is clear to see that it is a labor of love for its creator. The original Planetoid debuted in 2012 and Garing has been working on the sequel ever since. Onica is the leader of the group of survivors who are struggling to make a new life on the mechanical planetoid they call home. This life is and their morality is thrown into chaos with the arrival of a lone alien, a member of the species that conquered and enslaved most of them. While befriended by the children who know nothing of hate the alien Ohm is immediately sentenced to death by the adults who are seeking revenge for the atrocities of his kind.

Garing capitalizes on the world he established in the first Planetoid volume and expands upon it with a very timely morality tale. Our current headlines are full of stories about hating the other, hating that which is different, and how we single out individuals for the wrongs of their particular race or country. In PLANETOID: PRAXIS #1 we get to see a similar story play out where the children without the ingrained sense of hate view the newcomer as a friend while the adults see nothing but the monster that hurt them many years ago. Ohm is sentenced to a brutal death just for being a member of the wrong species and it is brought home to the reader through the viewpoint of the children who just do not understand the hate that he brings out in others. Generally I do not appreciate grandiose moralizing in comics especially when it feels like it was ripped from the headlines but this issue really got to me I thought it was especially well done. Ohm is portrayed with absolute innocence yet his race is shows to have committed the worst war crimes imaginable, this dichotomy works so well that the decision Onica is faced with feels very real and you can see why it weighs so heavy on her soul.

Garing kills it on art as well, great character design and attention to detail are showcased from cover to cover. Clean pencils and and a clever use of colors allow Garing to create a detailed world that looks both familiar enough to be recognized while alien enough to still look like the science fiction world this book is trying to create. I enjoyed this issue enough to go back and look up and order the original Planetoid mini series and it was well worth it. Creator owned science fiction comics are some of my favorites due to the fact that comics, above any other medium, allow for complete creative control from their authors and artists. There is no budget to worry about and the work on the page is limited only by the imagination of those telling the story. PLANETOID: PRAXIS #1 is worth checking out for all comic fans and I would encourage everyone to at least take a flyer on it and pick up the first issue to see if it grabs you. This was a totally unknown story and creator to me but I really enjoyed it to the extent that not only will I be picking up issue number two but I also have the first series on order.

 

PLANET OF THE APES/GREEN LANTERN #1 (DC Comics)-

2.0 Stars.gif

DC Comics' Green Lantern crossovers continue this week with PLANET OF THE APES/GREEN LANTERN #1. In collaboration with BOOM studios this series is written by Justin Jordan based off of a story by Robbie Thompson. In what has to be one the stranger crossovers ever thought up this issues sees the modern Green Lantern corp along with the other colors of the spectrum cross over with the seminal Planet of the Apes series from the 70s. Dr Cornelius is searching for Nova and Taylor in the wasteland when he comes into contact with a power ring sent from another time and place. Back in the DC universe Sinestro has finally found a path to ultimate power and it involves a tear in spacetime that sends him and Hal into the alternate future of the Planet of the Apes.

Jordan and Thompson have combined with a story that works far better than it should. On its face the idea is ridiculous but in practice the duo have penned a story that brings together two well known science fiction franchises in a way I never thought possible. Using the Planet of the Apes universe as a future version of Earth is so obvious and simple that it works amazingly well. Hal and Sinestro are transported there while at the same time Cornelius is the new owner of a power ring that he cannot possibly understand. The problems with this story become apparent in the forced nature of the worlds colliding as well as the ambiguity surrounding the ring Cornelius finds. Is it a yellow ring? An orange ring? I honestly could not tell and I have not missed an issue of Green Lantern since Johns Rebirth issue so many years ago. The insignia looks like a yellow ring but the covetous nature of his dialogue suggests it is an orange ring. All this combines with some subtext in the issue that it could be a new ring as yet unknown to the universe.

The art by Barnaby Bagenda is serviceable but not extraordinary. I would describe his art as flat and featureless yet accurate enough that I never got lost in an issue with so many characters. It felt safe from start to finish but it does not raise this issue above its mediocre tie in status. The idea to mix the Green Lanterns with the Planet of the Apes is a fun idea that sounds good in a conference call but does not play out so well on the printed page. Using the Apes world as a parallel future the lanterns travel to is a fun idea but the novelty wears off when you look objectively at the story at hand. I think the Green Lantern/Star Trek crossover was great but this one feels like a misstep and I would not recommend it anyone but the most die hard Apes fans looking for something strange and new in that classic universe.

 

STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #1 (Marvel Comics )-

2.0 Stars.gif

For a character with only two lines of dialogue and limited screen time Darth Maul has become a fixture in the modern Star Wars universe. This week sees the release of STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #1, his first solo mini series since Marvel Comics began to publish Star Wars books. Set before the events of The Phantom Menace STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #1 opens with the Sith apprentice culling Rathtars on a distant world. He has been trained to be the ultimate killing machine fueled by hate yet he is trapped by slow machinations of Darth Sidious. The plans to begin the downfall of the Jedi are not yet ready to begin so Maul must quell his blood lust and his rage via hunts and small missions against foes far beneath him. Chastised for baiting the Jedi, Maul is dispatched on one such mission to take down a pirate enclave that has endangered Sidious' plans with the Trade Federation. When all are dead Maul learns of a lone Jedi Padawan being held captive and sets out to find this young warrior perhaps to mold him, possibly to test himself against his true enemy.

Penned by Marvel Comics mainstay Cullen Bunn STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #1 is as safe and basic as a comic can get. After all these years one of the most iconic villains in Star Wars is yet again reduced to a mindless thug with anger control issues. The Clone Wars and even Rebels have both sought to expand on Darth Maul's limited backstory and create a character with more depth so it was disappointing to pick up this issue and see that none of that backstory has been put to good use. This issue is also plagued by the prequels infatuation with galactic politics and rules. Nobody has ever cared about the Trade Federation or taxes or senate rules this book is full of references to those kind of machinations. There is a light at the end of the tunnel in that it is not revealed what exactly Maul has planned for this captive apprentice he seeks. Hopefully Cullen Bunn intends to take some chances and allow Darth Maul to be more than just a blunt instrument seeking nothing but mayhem and revenge.

The art by Luke Ross is rather stellar on character design but falls short when depicting the space battles Star Wars is so well known for. Ships and movement are clunky and none of it really flows but it can be overlooked for the solid action and style showcased during Maul's fight scenes. STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #1 does not live up to the standard set by the rest of the Star Wars comics from Marvel and that is a shame. Instead of taking chances and giving readers something new this issue reads like another random mini series that SHOWS us how much of a badass Darth Maul is while never telling readers WHY he is such a badass.

 

BULLSEYE #1 (Marvel Comics )-

2.0 Stars.gif

One of the deadliest mercenaries in Marvel Comics is getting his own book this week with the debut of BULLSEYE #1. In a refreshing approach to comics with antagonist leads Ed Brisson does not attempt to humanize Bullseye or make him some kind of anti hero. This Bullseye is bored and wants to kill people, it is as clear cut as that. Dispatched by a mob boss to take down a South American drug cartel Bullseye is set loose to do what he does best and this issue allows him to revel in it. There is also a follow up story by Marv Wolfman and Alec Morgan that is beautifully drawn and again focuses on Bullseye's need to take the hardest, bloodiest, most violent road available to him.

While Brisson's approach to Bullseye is definitely the correct path for this character the problem still remains that you are attempting to develop an entire story around a one trick pony. Bullseye is mean and he kills people, there is not much more to him than that and this issue does not seek to dig any deeper into his scarred psyche. It is violent and kinda funny at times but at no point did I feel invested in the character or the story. This is the problem I am having with many of the recent Marvel titles in that books are being developed for characters that might work well as a supporting cast but when placed in the spotlight for 22 pages they fall short.

I found the art by Guillermo Sanna to be a bit of a let down as well. Messy pencils with ugly faces do not make a book that is appealing to the eye. I definitely think he is talented and there is a sense of style but it is not one that I personally gravitate to. If anything it reminds be of Igor Kordey's fill in issues for New X-men and that is not a good thing. I cannot see much here to recommend to readers. This feels like a mini series at best and would only really appeal to those looking to revel in some over the top violence.

 

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 25, 2017

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: January 18, 2017

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: January 11, 2017

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