We might need to figure out a new CQ name configuration as we start adding more books to the review list…
The Hypernaturals #1
“With great power comes great responsibility.” – Martha Wayne in X-Men #34
That statement can be directed towards many superheroes, but it could also be directed towards many superhero writers.
When an author, or authors—in the case of the Hypernaturals with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, opts to create an entirely new universe from scratch, he or she is wandering into some pretty dangerous territory. Not only is there the responsibility to create entire casts of characters, many layers of new history, a brand new lexicon, and unique geographical locations, but it also needs to be executed in a way that doesn’t send the reader running in the opposite direction.
And that’s for issue number one.
Fortunately, Abnett and Lanning manage this masterfully. In just a short 22 pages, they introduce several generations of major characters; a cornucopia of planets, universes, and sectors; weird technology, a brand new vocabulary (“hypernaturals” instead of “superheroes”), and a complex history I’m just beginning to understand (in a good way).
It’s truly rewarding when passionate writers get to play in their entire sandbox. It works against Marvel and DC sometimes when writers clearly can’t waltz too far without running into another book, continuity errors, or some crossover event.
The art, provided by Brad Walker and Andres Guinaldo, does exactly what it needs to. It gets the job done. For the most part, it’s standard comic book art fare, which is, in this case, appreciated. Some comic book artists go a little too “art nouveau” to a point where it detracts from the story. Here it does not. Also, the artists prove capable in drawing varying body sizes, something that’s quite elusive in other books.
Now that much of the story’s exposition is over, I’m looking forward to the action. If that delivers in the next issue, then Hypernaturals is definitely going to be a forced to be reckoned with.
Magic the Gathering: Spell Thief #1
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” – Rebecca Black
Reading this comic reminded me a lot my recent viewing of the movie Snow White and the Huntsman, which is not a compliment.
The biggest mistake any writer can do is to assume the readers are just automatically going to care about his or her characters. In Snow White and the Huntsman, there are battles, a plethora of supporting characters, grandiose speeches, gorgeous visuals, and an expansive mythos. Too bad none of it mattered since the movie did nothing to make me care about any character.
And that’s pretty hard to do, considering someone can show a picture of a kitten and I will immediately invest all of my feelings into that teensy feline.
Magic the Gathering: Spell Thief encounters the exact same problem. The main character’s personality is pretty bland, his backstory is Tragic Backstory #2, and none of the other characters are at all interesting either. The plot is also, unfortunately, pretty standard.
The most redeeming part is the art. The pencils and shading range from “decent” to “impressive” throughout the story, and the colors are simply sublime. In fact, I’d hazard to say J. Edwin Stevens’ colors are some of the best I’ve ever seen.
That being said, no one should pay $4.99 for colors. And, unfortunately, that’s all this book really has to offer.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Exorcism #1
“There’s a She-Wolf in your closet, let it out so it can breathe.” – Bon Iver
The best comics to review are ones that are either fantastic or terrible. The Kelly Clarksons and the William Hungs of the comic book world, so to speak. One can use beautiful, complimentary language when lauding the truly stellar attributes of a stand-out comic. Or, one can use poignant, damning language when condemning a piece of trash to the masses.
But the “pretty decent” comics? There’s not much to say. And that’s the case with B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Exorcism #2.
Overall, the comic was decent. This issue, part of a 2-part series, suffers mostly because it’s almost entirely exposition. And even the parts that aren’t exposition feel like exposition.
That being said, the exposition is decently interesting. The protagonist is sympathetic enough to garner interest, but not dynamic enough to garner a lot of interest. The supporting cast is pretty neat, but no one punches you in the face and leaves an impression.
The art is definitely above average. The style is a perfectly adequate blend of realistic and cartoony. Yup, it gets the job done.
…that might have been the most boring review I’ve ever written.
Dear comics, please punch me in the face so I have something to write about. Love, Jon.
The Almighties #1
“When life gives you lemons, make grape juice and leave them wondering how you did it.” – Joan Rivers
Truth be told, I have had it up to my eyebrows with comics parodying comics. I get it, I get it. Every single writer thinks his or her witty take on Batman, Iron Man, or the Justice League is special. This past year, parodying The Avengers has been pretty darn popular. I cannot ever imagine why.
So when I came across The Almighties #1, I got nervous. Really nervous.
Turns out I didn’t have anything to be nervous about. Because Sam Johnson’s take on the Avengers is like nothing I have ever seen before. It is weird. And I mean that in a positive way.
The comic’s humor is very much like the first time you wander into that bizarre district of YouTube. Initially, you think you know what’s going on. Everything seems normal. Then, suddenly, everything gets funky. At some moments you’re entertained. At other moments, terrified and confused. But you just can’t look away.
Weird metaphor aside, the bold humor is what sells the book. Sometimes the jokes land; sometimes they don’t. The characters, despite loosely mocking the Avengers, are very much distinct and…weird, in their very own way. Which is refreshing to have in a parody.
There are three different artists in the book and it is painfully obvious. The art at both the beginning and end of the comic is pretty decent. It’s the art stuck in the middle that disappoints and actively detracts from the story. It’s overly sketchy, the lines aren’t crisp, and not one face makes any sense.
Overall, it’s nice to see a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Even if I didn’t understand specific lines or quips, I did appreciate the general tone of the book. It’s truly unlike anything I’ve read before. I just wish the art was tighter.