Monday, January 09, 2017

2016 Comics in Review - Part 1

Here we are again. If you've been here a while, you know how these work. If not, the first 4 days are me working through all the titles I bought, talking about some of the people who worked on them and what the stories were, what I liked and didn't like. The fifth day will be a listing thing. The opening paragraphs will be various statistical stuff I feel like discussing.

Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire #5: Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, with Anthony Clark on colors, had Robo save the world from the Biomega threat (for now) with the aid of a leftover Nazi death satellite. Majestic-12 is still lurking, Jenkins is still missing, and we'll see if Robo's plan to stick to world-changing science holds (it won't). All in all, an enjoyable conclusion to that mini-series.

Atomic Robo The Temple of Od #1-5: As is normal, Clevinger and Wegener wrapped up a story in the present, and started one in the past. This time, Robo travels to Manchuria during World War II to try and rescue a Dr. Lu from the Japanese Army and keep his zero-point energy reactor out of their hands. Complicated somewhat by the fact he doesn't speak any of the languages anyone else does.

High Point: Clark's done some really gorgeous color work with all the weird energy effects. The Ghost Bandits have been pretty funny at times. 'We're losing too many trucks. And my hat.' Wegener's artwork has been up-and-down, but the good stuff, combined with Clark's colors, has been outstanding. That one panel showing the progression of Robo's fight with the two super-soldiers was some good work.

Low Point: The pacing is off, as though Clevinger is leaning on the hilarity of the Ghost Bandits too heavily. It feels like there could be more going on with all the forces in the area, but the Soviets only started to get involved partway through issue 4.

Avengers #1.1, 2.1: Mark Waid, Barry Kitson, Mark Farmer, and Jordan Boyd bring us the adventures of Cap's Kooky Quartet, as they struggle to deal with not being particularly powerful, and the public's extremely vocal doubt of their ability to protect the world. Having gotten their butts kicked by the Frightful Four, they've had their ranks bolstered by a young woman named Cressida with impressive, but dangerous powers. I don't know whether this counts as a mini-series or an ongoing, since I think it's just going to be the one storyarc.

Black Widow #1-6: Waid again, with Chris Samnee, Matt Wilson, and Joe Caramagna. Natasha steals from SHIELD and goes on the run to find the Weeping Lion who is trying to blackmail her. She ultimately does and puts him under her thumb, while also finding out the Red Room is pumping out more young girl assassins.

High Point: It was a sparse issue, but #1, with Natasha's escape from the Helicarrier was really well-drawn and paced. A lot of good work with action there. Samnee and Wilson's combined efforts were strong throughout, and I especially liked the particular shade of red Wilson seemed to favor. It always makes those panels leap off the page.

Low Point: The story felt pretty much like every other Black Widow story I've read, and none of those have ever interested me enough to get me to stick with her as a lead character, either.

Blue Beetle #0, 1-4: I'm going to include the Rebirth issue here, since it feeds into the ongoing. Keith Giffen, Scott Kolins, and Ramon Fajardo have brought Jaime Reyes and his supporting cast back, sort of. They also added a retired Ted Kord, and an ominous Dr. Fate to the mix, but it's not entirely clear how everything else connects to this "Horde".

High Point: The book has a bit of a horror vibe, with dark forces swirling around the most of the characters are either unaware of, or can't really understand. And the scarab has its own motivations, possibly not so benign for Jaime. I'm not sure it's the best way to go with this book and cast, given audience expectations, but taken on its own, it's intriguing. And it's nice to see Ted Kord.

Low Point: Unfortunately, the cast is extremely hostile and unpleasant, which makes it a chore to read when you hate the characters. Brenda seems to be getting it worst, but to varying degrees, it's happening to everybody. Could be intentional, an effect of the scarab's presence, but I don't feel like Giffen and Kolins have really hinted at that much yet.

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #1-3: Cave Carson does indeed have a cybernetic eye. He also has his daughter Chloe and his friend, Wild Dog, along with him on an adventure to see what the company IGX is up to in the subterranean kingdom of Muldroon.

High Point: Oeming's done some fantastic panel layouts, combined with Nick Filardi's color work, has made for some strong visuals, in the action sequences and the quieter moments. Jonathan Rivera and Gerard Way are setting up some potentially interesting dynamics among the three protagonists, and the idea to put Wild Dog, of all characters, in the mix, seems random, but is working pretty well so far.

Low Point: I don't care about those Super Powers bits Scioli's doing at the back of the book, and they might be why it's $4 instead of $3 per issue.

Darkwing Duck #1-6: James Silvani and Aaron Sparrow returned to Darkwing Duck, first with Negaduck taking over the new St. Canard prison, then capturing an extraordinarily powerful bug, and finally with a trip to a comic convention.

High Point: Seeing Gosalyn cosplayed as Darkwing was sweet. There are some funny gags in almost every issue. Silvani is a consistently solid artist, who can do the exaggerated cartoon expressions when you need it, but also dial it back for the moments that require that.

Low Point: Issue #5 was frustrating for being a retelling of a story I read 20 years ago. Granting that they're using it as a refresher (or intro) for fans to a character they clearly have big plans for (plans which may not come through, since I haven't seen the book in a couple months), it still felt like an inventory issue.

And that's it for Day 1. Tomorrow, Deadpool. And some other books. But a lot of Deadpool.

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