Welcome to Adventures in Poor Taste‘s weekly comic review. A typical week might see over 50 book releases and that’s just the big two over at DC and Marvel. This column serves as a buyers guide to those of us holding a single Hamilton that can’t afford to read every single issue.
Each week I’ll read a glut of the good and the bad and post enough reviews to reach the budget of $X. Yes, that’s $10.00 to those of you not Roman. I’ll also post one comic to steer clear from. Sadly, a quality comic is few and far between these days, so with ten dollars a diligent reader can still get their comic on.
Carnage USA #1 (of 5) (Marvel)
Issue 1 on stands now!
Carnage is back baby, and this time he’s got digital artist Clayton Crain and writer Zeb Wells to back him up. If you’re familiar with Crain’s work on X-Force and Deadpool you’ll know what you’re in for with this issue. Everything looks hyper-realistic, from the blood splatter to the scenery. His style fits Carnage very well and, similarly to X-Force, has a plentiful smattering of grime and gore to compliment the character.
This issue opens on small town Colorado, USA. Carnage has been off the grid for quite awhile, but he’s seemed to have picked up some extra abilities. Carnage can not only possess human beings using the alien Symbiote, but can also send the liquid alien through the water supply. It’s usually a frustrating experience when a villain pops up with more power than God, but in this case it doesn’t feel like a cheat since the man beneath the alien, Cletus Kasady, is a bona fide psycho with deep-seeded mental issues.
What did you think I meant by baby symbiont outreach?!
Lo and behold the news of strange behavior in Colorado reaches the Avengers and our humble heroes must strike. The team definitely feels more like a family, as they should knowing their history together.
Cap’s William Tell team building exercise might not be the best idea.
Wells does a great job adding some humor and team solidarity the Avengers have lacked the last few years under Brian Bendis. While the price of issue 1 of a 5 part series is a bit high at $3.99, it’s worth a try.
Especially with this line-up.
Budget: $10.00 – $3.99 = $6.01
Sacrifice #1 (of 6) (Image)
Sacrifice is written by Chris Humphries who most may not be familiar with, but he wrote the extremely entertaining and hilarious single issue comic Our Love is Real. That comic was about a future where humans are only allowed to have romantic relationships with animals and police spend most of their time breaking up plant and crystal lovers. So you might expect something equally twisted and hilarious with Sacrifice, but unfortunately you’d be dead wrong. Instead the subject involves Aztecs, a boy with a problem with seizures and, you guessed it, time travel.
Is this a seizure or a reaction to the tacos?
The problem this first issue faces is it’s heavy handed with setting up the plot. Every character seems to be unnaturally expressing what we need to know about Aztecs to understand the dilemma of the story. This roughly equates to the reading becoming work and thus no real enjoyment. That isn’t to say this series won’t get much better, but as a first issue the book is light on “action” and “heavy on everything you wanted to know about Aztecs but where afraid to ask”.
The art on the other hand, done exceptionally well by unknown artist Dalton Rose, makes the most benign frames seem alive with movement. Colorist Pete Toms also does an amazing job giving each page a pop that’s rare these days.
“Last chance, you join our hip-hop crew or we’re going with Bernard as backup.”
This book could do great things as a trade paperback, but as a standalone first issue it doesn’t do enough to warrant the $2.99 asking price.
Budget $10.00 – $3.99 = $6.01 – $0.0 = $6.01
Demon Knights #4 (DC Comics)
This book is a fantasy lovers dream come true. Previous issues included a raptor on barbarian battle in a bar, robotic dinosaurs, and a healthy helping of magic. If that doesn’t scream, “you will buy this in trade and single issues!” I don’t know what will.
“I see the violence. I see it well.”
This book takes place in the dark ages of the DC universe utilizing a cast of characters that add up to a motley crew of magic and battle ready soldiers of a sort. It’s your typical slap dash crew thrown together whilst being chased down by an evil queen. Etrigan the demon is the most familiar of the characters, having graced Batman the Animated Series and his own weekly comic series in the last 30 or so years. You won’t be seeing him in this issue, as the focus is on the backstory of “The New 52” Shining Knight character.
“Because the Shining Knight is now a girl she must play with ponies.” – Movie Producer who snuck into the DC writers room.
This is an okay jumping on point for readers who haven’t been keeping up, as it opens up a characters back story, but also sets up the entire purpose of the crew known as Demon Knights. That said since most of this book is exposition don’t expect a lot of action. It does play with the myth of Merlin in an interesting way though and I typically find mythological story building interesting, but it could be considered a bit of a snore to some readers.
Action Packed Merlin can now fly and suits as a lamp for children of all ages!
Much of the art in this issue takes on a dream like quality, showing frames seemingly to dissolve into one another. It all creates a semblance of a story being told quite nicely.
Dreamy right? What you don’t have dreams of little girls with horned helmets floating? Weirdo.
Overall I can’t recommend this book enough. A war is coming to these characters that shouldn’t be missed.
Budget $10.00 – $3.99 = $6.01 – $0.0 = $6.01 – $2.99 = $4.00
Batwoman #4 (DC Comics)
If ever you wanted to take a course in the full page spread this comic is your classroom. This book is drop dead gorgeous. There is nowhere else you can find comics laid out like paintings, with each panel adding up to a masterpiece. Case in point:
Just your average characters moving the plot forward and in any other hands would be a straight up nine panel page. No, instead J.H. Williams III spreads it across the entire book, in glorious painting around regular comic sketches. This page is pretty, but at other times he uses this technique to tell something about the story. Case in point:
Really this entire spread could have been just the panels with the characters speaking. Instead, our humble artist wraps Batwoman waking with a woman on a crisp winter morning, and her girlfriend is wrapped in the cold city night as detectives find her body. Really just chilling. If you don’t get emotionally charged from this visual storytelling there may be something dead inside you.
Now the pessimist might muster the argument that some of these full page spreads cheat the reader out of story, and true, I’ll warrant their point of view. But when the pages look this amazing:
Your argument is invalid.
Yes I’m aware I completely skipped speaking about the incredibly vivid storytelling, the perfectly horrific and slimy mystery, but with panels like this why bother. Buy this book.
Budget $10.00 – $3.99 = $6.01 – $0.0 = $6.01 – $2.99 = $4.00 – $2.99 = $1.01
With three comics in your bag and $1.01 to spare I’d say that’s a good week. This week saw only one new comic under a dollar on the stands so I’ll leave it to the reader to decide.
Or the un-reviewable Archie and Friends for $.99?