Home

Hugh Likes Comics: Calamity Kate

Leave a comment

Calamity Kate #1
Written by Magdalene Visaggio
Drawn by Corin Howell
Colored by Valenitna Pinto
Published by Dark Horse Comics

748567._SX360_QL80_TTD_

The Skinny: A recent divorcee moves to California to start over in the high-stakes world of professional monster hunting.

Kate Strand’s life just fell apart. After going through a messy divorce and withdrawing into her shell, she’s ready to reinvent herself. And she’s going to do it by becoming the world’s greatest monster hunter, much to the chagrin of her former best friend and single-parent Vera, whose couch she’s going to be surfing on while she does it.
Visaggio has stated that this is an almost biographical story, dealing with her own divorce and the self-destructive urges that came with it. While the monsters may be metaphorical, who hasn’t been tempted to leave their messy lives behind and start again rather than face a scarier reality, even knowing that you’re carrying your problems with you?
The thing I love about this issue is the manic sense of tension that pervades every panel. The focus is less on the cool monsters than it is the consequences Kate is running from. This is best expressed in an early sequence where Kate asks Vera if she can stay with her until she gets back on her feet, and they are interrupted by a bunch of monster skulls toppling out of her duffel bag.
Howell’s art and Pinto’s colors sing. Howell does both great expressions and pleasantly scary monster designs. Pinto’s dark colors are a perfect tonal match. Even on a bright, sunny, morning, there is the pervading sense of impending catastrophe.
Calamity Kate #1 is a bold new first issue to another deeply personal story from a rising star in comics writing. You can find it digitally through Comixology, or grab a physical copy at your local comics shop!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Advertisements

Hugh Likes Comics: Wonder Twins

Leave a comment

Wonder Twins #1
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Stephen Byrne
Published by DC Comics

Wonder Twins.jpg

The Skinny: DC revives two Saturday Morning Cartoon c-listers for a funny and heartwarming YA series.

High School is difficult. Especially when you’re a transfer student from another planet. DC has revived 70’s and 80’s cartoon sidekicks the Wonder Twins in a lighthearted new monthly book as a part of their Wonder Comics imprint, and the first issue is utterly delightful.
At a time when DC’s books feel like they are at their darkest and most complicated, this feels like a breath of fresh air. Russell delivers a fast moving and engaging script that gives readers that weren’t alive during the Raegan administration everything they need to know. These new versions of Zan and Jayna are well realized and interesting. The humor is always rooted in their characters and never relies on them being z-list sidekicks from the silver age. And they actually land quite well. Skilled but self-conscious Jayna dresses like a young Clark Kent, and awkward but overconfident Zan gets into all kinds of trouble. I won’t spoil any of the really good gags in the issue, but we also learn Batman and Superman’s most embarrassing high school moments, and that Diana is the mean girl of the Super Friends.
Byrne’s art is colorful and engaging, and makes the issue a joy to read. The whole package feels like DC finally has an answer to Marvel’s Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, a charming, comedic book that dusts off some young, goofy characters for light-hearted superheroic hi-jinx. This book isn’t going to reshape the multiverse, but it’s a welcome relief from DC’s latest crisis. You can find it online through Comixology, or in print at your local comics shop!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hugh Likes Comics: Daredevil

Leave a comment

Daredevil #1
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Drawn by Marco Checchetto
Colored by Sunny Gho
Published by Marvel Comics

Daredevil(2019)

The Skinny: After recovering from dying (again,) Matt Murdock returns to crime-fighting, but things aren’t so easy anymore.

Matt Murdock is tired. After having come back to life, although in a bit more medically plausible fashion this time, he is hitting the rooftops as Daredevil, but finding that things aren’t as easy as they used to be. With Wilson Fisk the elected mayor of New York, NYPD has standing orders to stop vigilantes, with Daredevil being a major target.
Plus, Matt is rushing things. He’s impatient, and isn’t back to his old self. Like an old boxer, he is wondering if her ever will be, and how long he can rebound before physical injury and infirmity catch up to him.
Chip Zdarsky is hitting it out of the park with another more serious book at Marvel. I’ve already reviewed his writing on The Invaders, and this is a similarly thoughtful take on a character who has seen horrors and how they have internalized them. My favorite line of the issue is when he tells the woman he takes home from a bar not to fetishize his disability. There is a bone-tiredness there that speaks volumes about Matt’s experiences both in and out of his superhero identity.
Marco Checchetto’s art and Sunny Gho’s coloring both serve the story well. I liked Checchetto’s cramped, overlapping page layouts and Gho’s dark and gritty colors both do a great job of establishing an atmosphere and pace to the issue that would be a little unclear without them.
The issue also has a four-page backup story by Zdarsky that is a nearly-wordless short about Matt saving a kidnapping victim that does a great job of showing the events first from an outside point of view, then from Matt’s, using a great visualization of his sensory powers.
Daredevil #1feels very reminiscent of the Netflix series, but this is a very strong return for the character, and I can’t wait to see where this team goes with this direction. You can pick up a copy from your Local Comics Shop, or get the digital version from Comixology.
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hugh Likes Comics: Naomi

Leave a comment

Naomi #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker
Art by Jamal Campbell
Lettered by Josh Reed
Published by DC Comics

Cover._SX360_QL80_TTD_.jpg

The Skinny: DC’s newest imprint opens with a surprisingly quiet, but beautiful, introduction

What is it like to live as an adopted teenager in a world where someone like Superman exists? When a fight with a super-villain sends him hurtling through the small town of Port Oswego, Naomi is left grappling with how she feels, and the nagging doubt that something about her suburban, middle-class life is off. And after the fight, and even the cleanup is over, she’s left wondering, what other extraordinary events is the town hiding, and why won’t anyone talk with her about the day she was adopted?
Bendis and Walker do a great job of approaching a stock comics trope from a new angle. The lens of this issue is focus squarely on Naomi, instead of the marketable superhero. There isn’t a lot of tension for a first issue, giving us a real taste of what Naomi’s normal life is like. This is likely to change, but for a first issue to let us simply meet this new character is both unexpected and refreshing.
The real standout here is Jamal Campbell’s art, though He really breathes life into what could be a staid, and honestly, boring comic. His Port Oswego is vibrant and dynamic, while still retaining its small-town atmosphere. He does a lot of great work with layouts and panels as well. We get a pair of sequences where townspeople respond to Naomi’s questions, and she sits outside the panel grid, but also underneath it. There is a lot of subtle characterization in those tight frames.
Naomi #1 is the start of something really interesting. You can buy it digitally from Comixology, or pick it up in print from Your Local Comics Shop.
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hugh Likes Comics: Invaders

Leave a comment

Invaders #1
Written by Chip Zdarski
Drawn by Carlos Magno with Butch Guice
Colored by Alex Guimarães
Published by Marvel Comics
728801._sx360_ql80_ttd_

The Skinny: A new story of Marvel’s Golden Age heroes rooted in the trauma of war.

Invaders #1 is a comic out of time. The retconned compilation of Golden Age Marvel, then Timely Comics, The Invaders were a team of patriotic superheroes fighting for the Allies in World War II. This included Captain America, but also Timely’s two biggest heroes of the period: The original Human Torch, Jim Hammond, and Namor, the Sub-Mariner. This story of the team is split between the war and the present, as Hammond interviewing Cap and his fellow soldiers for a book he’s writing, and Namor, as king of Atlantis, is preparing to start another war.
This book walks a perilously thin line, but I think it manages it beautifully. This isn’t just a superhero soap opera, but an earnest look at the trauma of war. This kind of subject hasn’t always been handled well by comics as a medium, but Zdarski, better known for his humor writing, is evocative and realistic, balancing genuine pathos with the more fantastic melodrama. In one scene Captain America is talking with Hammond about his own complex feelings about reliving the war over speaker phone, while battling a Tony Stark-designed arming of training robots. It should come off as goofy, but Zdarski’s writing, and the art, sells it.
The art is stand-out here. Using two art styles, and in this case two artists to denote different time periods isn’t a new innovation, but Magno and Guice are both distinctive, and each style is well suited to its respective period. Giuimarães’s colors are also a sharp division, with muted browns and yellows for the war contrasting with more vivid colors for Steve’s training session and Atlantis.
Invaders #1 is the start of a story that is so far doing an excellent job of balancing two different storytelling extremes. I’m very much interested in seeing how it plays out. You can find it digitally from Comixology, or pick up a physical copy from your Local Comics Shop.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hugh Likes Comics: Atomic Robo and the Dawn of the New Era

Leave a comment

Atomic Robo and the Dawn of the New Era #1
Written by Brian Clevenger
Drawn by Scott Wegener
Colored by Shannon Murphy
Published by IDW

3f93c48ffcd9445c711b1de0a44a5a44._sx1280_ql80_ttd_

The Skinny: Atomic Robo returns with the most perilous action science adventure yet – Fatherhood.

I’m a sucker for mad science. Arcing Tesla coils, doomsday devices, snappy lab-wear and villainous monologues, give me the whole bit. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always found Clevenger and Wegener’s Atomic Robo so interesting. Being the robot son of Tesla himself, he is the very essence of pulp weirdness, but he constantly struggles to make sense of the world, be it through rigorously mapping non-euclidean spaces or just punching out his velociraptor arch-nemesis, Dr. Dinosaur. He’s the product of mad science, but for the most part he is trying to straighten the field back into something sensible.
This is very much the case in the latest issue, which starts a new story arc, and is a great place for new readers to jump on. Throughout his adventures, Robo has gone from pulp-style adventurer to solider to scientist to tech mogul. But this story puts him in a very different role, that of a father. Through a series of events, he is now the caretaker of ALAN, a networked AI from the 1950’s that has lost its memory, and is effectively a new person. The original ALAN was willing to destroy the world, but Robo has a chance to give it an education, and hopefully a different future.
Clevenger’s writing is as spot-on as it’s ever been, and Wegener’s art remains appealingly chunky. Fans of the character will find plenty to enjoy, and this is a great issue for new readers to pick up. You can find Atomic Robo and the Dawn of the New Era on Comixology or at your local comics shop. And if you like it, there are plenty of back issues to pick through for free over at Atomic-Robo.com.

Hugh Likes Comics: Conan the Barbarian #1

Leave a comment

Conan the Barbarian #1
Written by Jason Aaron
Drawn by Mahmud Asrar
Colors by Matthew Wilson
Published by Marvel Comics

728711._SX360_QL80_TTD_.jpg

The Skinny: A perfectly CROMulent return to comics for the archetypal antihero.

With much fanfare, Conan the Barbarian has returned to Marvel Comics, and his first effort back is pretty good, I think? I should begin this review by saying that I’m not very familiar with the Marvel run that began in the 70’s and added so much to the character’s mythos. I am more well-read on Robert E. Howard’s original short stories, however.
And this comic, to me at least, is good. Aaron tells a nice little Conan story that doesn’t stray from the path of a Conan story. Conan kills a dude for reasons, meets a sexy lady that ALSO kills people and is super into him. Conan sleeps with her even though it is a SUPER OBVIOUS TRAP, and cuts his way out of trouble after the trap is sprung. Aaron’s signature here is in tying King Conan and Barbarian Conan together. It is reminiscent of writing on Thor, contrasting the brash youth with his scarred older self. It works well, and I’m onboard to see where he goes with it.
Asrar’s art is downright gorgeous, all rippling muscle and larger than life figures that can’t be contained by their panels. Matthew Wilson’s coloring is also outstanding, bringing a brightness that echoes the 70’s origins of the comic. The art team has big shoes to fill here, as the comic opens with a double-page collage of Smith and Buscema art.
The comic also includes a serialized prose novella as backup material, written by John C. Hocking, which feels very much in the vein of the original, but it is a bit too early to tell.
Conan the Barbarian #1 is a return to good old fashioned sword and sorcery, with a simple plot and bold and bloody art that leaps off the page. It knows exactly what it is and doesn’t push too far beyond it, but if you’re looking for a simple fantasy adventure for adults, you can find it at your local comics shop or in digital from Comixology.

Older Entries