Friday was the two DC books, today is for the two books from outside the Marvel/DC circle. Two weeks ago, I was running some numbers to amuse myself during a mandatory workshop on collaboration and thought non-Marvel/DC books might just outnumber DC for me this year. Then I realized I'd forgotten a few DC books I bought early in the year - like those 3 issues of Klarion - so never mind.
Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire #2, by Brian Clevinger (words), Scott Wegener (artist), Anthony Clark (colorist), Jeff Powell (letterer) - They're gonna need a bigger gun, and a bigger boat.
The Action Scientists get Robo's head up and running, and set about a plan to build him a new body. Which requires traveling to a freighter sitting in disputed waters that houses the international super-science black market (which is itself a remnant of the USSR's version of Tesladyne). They start putting their shopping list together, and even find Broughton, another Tesladyne employee, and the only person with any chance of building a new reactor to power Robo. Then the ship gets attacked by a Biomega (kaiju, basically), which we've learned in the b-plot are increasing in number (thus Majestic-12's takeover of Super Science Team 5's headquarters, and the effort to construct more giant robot suits, for which they could also use Broughton.) Fortunately a Chinese sub arrived and fired some missiles, so the giant monster went away for now.
I have this feeling the Kid's interest in fungus as a growth medium for replacement human parts (I think that's what she was talking about) is going to be relevant to the Biomega thing. The fact she was so eager to get a sample that she forgot she was talking about a monster large enough to easily smash an oil tanker was kind of a tip-off. Also, there was a back-up story once that showed China had a mech defense force team, only instead of Power Ranger style, one pilot per suit, it was a single robot with 5 people controlling it (mentally? it's been awhile since I read it). I feel that could end up being significant, too. So more stuff happening has gotten me considerably more engaged in the story than I was after the first issue. Even if Robo's a head in a little moving box, at least he's active again. The Hackers joke was lost on me, since I've never seen the movie, though I guess I can appreciate using fictional names (I'd kind of like to use the name Vash first used with Wolfwood at some point but "Valentinez Alkalinella
Xifax Sicidabohertz Gombigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andri
Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser the Third" is kind of a mouthful. Most JRPGs will not let you make a character name that long.
I think Wegener's really softened the lines on his work, or else someone's upped their shading game. Would that be him, or Clark? The shading seems like it's over the colors, which makes me think Clark's doing it as he colors the work, but shading is part of inking, which is presumably something Wegener does himself. Anyway, they're doing an excellent job on shadow effects and general expressiveness of the characters. It's good stuff. Also, the coat Lang's wearing while they're on the Vasilisa is pretty cool. I feel like I've seen one like it before, but I can't think wear.
Favorite line of dialogue is Broughton's, 'As the chief safety guy, it's my duty to yell at people so we can get through this alive.' This has been my impression of people who are concerned with workplace safety. When will they learn the old motto, "Safety third"?
Roche Limit: Clandestiny #5, by Michael Moreci (writer), Kyle Charles (artist), Matt Battaglia (colorist), Ryan Ferrier (letterer), Sarah Delante (flora/fauna), Tim Daniel (design) - I don't have much to say about that cover, so I'm going to mention I hate how the credits page is done, because the people's names and titles are extremely difficult to read against the backdrop. Which, if you're wanting credit for your work, seems counter-productive.
As we learned a couple of issues ago, Sasha isn't leaving the colony with the others, she's going to stay and kill the thing causing all the trouble because she knows what it is, though she doesn't exactly share the revelation with the rest of us. She ventures into the forest, finds Kim's corpse - nice to know what happened to her after she wandered off a couple issues ago! - and is approached by the whatever in the form of her dead husband. She stabs him, white lightning/threads/something comes from the woods and the Monster is revealed as a giant robot? Sasha manages to kill that by shooting, and before she dies, talks to the wraith impersonating her husband who admits these creatures are a hive, and thus find humans, with their individuality, amazing. So they try to be humans by consuming a person's soul. OK, sure. Meanwhile, Elbus, Colt, and Danny took the ship they'd unwittingly brought parts of here and rather than go to Earth to find the creatures already there, fly into the Anomaly to find their source, only to encounter a lot of spaceships.
So the creatures consume souls to become individuals. Simply possessing the body turns it into those shuffling corpses that tore the colony apart. I'm not clear on why passing through the Anomaly disassociates a person from their soul, though. But I'm not clear what the Anomaly is. Did the creatures make it, or is it a chance occurrence? If they apparently have spaceships of their own, why haven't they come barging through in them until now? They surged out as a formless mass near the end of the first mini-series, seemingly without difficulty.
I can't shake the feeling Moreci and Malhorta didn't plan this out enough. It has a certain awkward pacing to it that reminds me of stuff I write, where I'm pulling it together as I go along. Things dropped and seemingly forgotten until it's convenient to pick them up again. Kim going off alone and no one bothering to wonder about her until near the end, and I'm not even sure why a botanist was sent on this mission. I know whatever reason given for the expedition was a smokescreen, but what purpose was she going to serve? The first mini-series made the surface of the planet appear barren and rocky, so why send someone who knows about plants? And I'm still not sure how the Recall drug will end up tying back in, if it even does.
Also, the art shifts on this widely from page to page. At times I'd swear it was an entirely different artist, but I think there's just a lot of variability in how much of the respective load Charles and Battaglia are carrying. The last 5 pages in particular, I think Charles may have gone with less detailed figurework, and Battaglia's trying to fill in the gaps with more color, because things become much more about different blobs of color and almost no detail, especially on anything around the characters. Sasha's hair keeps a same general shape, but the details of it shift a lot, from being very frizzy for a few pages as she prepares to part company with the others, compared with a much more uniform mass for most of the rest of the pages. She's still distinguishable as the same character (though there aren't a lot of other options as to who it could be), but it's distracting. I did like some of the first few pages after she enters the forest. Charles and Battaglia combine for some very effective use of a purplish color and a lot of shadows to make the forest seem like a presence that's moving in closer. Even the things we're supposed to see are sort of half-glimpsed in shadows, so it's easy to wonder what is going to step into view, and what isn't.