Gotham City Monsters #1 (DC Comics)
It’s not quite October yet, but DC is getting their spooky on with Gotham City Monsters, a new series from Steve Orlando and Amancay Nahuelpan that brings together some of the weirdest monsters and misfits in the DC universe to battle an ancient evil that’s been resurrected to wreak havoc on the multiverse. With a cast that ranges from Killer Croc to Frankenstein’s Monster to the vampire Andrew Bennet, Gotham City Monsters is definitely one of the biggest reaches for the publisher, but it’s not without it’s own charms.
Vampire Andrew Bennet and Frankenstein’s Monster are both hunting the same foe: Melmoth. Believing that forces are working behind the scenes to resurrect the ancient demonic entity, the two supernatural saviors eventually find themselves reluctantly working together to hunt him down. Or that would be the case if Frankenstein hadn’t just cut Bennett in half.
The interplay between Bennet and Frankenstein makes up a large majority of Steve Orlando’s script, and it’s pretty entertaining. What’s less entertaining is the random sections of the issue that deal with the other members of this monster team. While they’re fine snippets into what each character is currently doing, there’s little to no connective tissue for how these characters are going to fit into the team, or the current plot of the first issue. And by the issue’s end, they’re no closer to joining Frank and Bennett, so it doesn’t make me very confident that they’ll be joining those characters any time soon.
Amancay Nahuelpan made a big splash with Black Mask Comics, and it’s really neat to see his art on a big two book like Gotham City Monsters. His style is both cartoony but expressive, and this series should do wonders to increase his visibility in the industry. He can handle the dark visuals needed for this series, but also the super cool action sequences as well. If you’ve never experienced his art before, you’re in for a real treat.
Gotham City Monsters may not live up to it’s title yet, but it could get there in a few issues. For fans of New 52 series Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE and I,Vampire, this is a must get, as those two lead characters feature very prominently in this opening issue. Fans of characters like Killer Croc and….Orca, I guess? Well, you might be disappointed.
Trees: Three Fates #1 (Image Comics)
Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s Trees has been running for a while now, and with the third installment in the series, Three Fates, arriving, I decided to finally give it a shot….which may have been a mistake. As a continuation of the Trees series, I’m sure it was great. But as a introduction to the Trees universe, it leaves a lot to be desired.
The basic plot of this new series revolves around the investigation of a dead body by local investigator Klara. After a bunch of giant pillars called “Trees” arrive on Earth, Humans needed to learn how to live with these new strange visitors. Eleven years later, humanity has accepted this as a new way of life, and the world keeps going, albeit now there’s a strange murder that may have ties to a deeper conspiracy.
That “lived in Sci-Fi” feeling is always welcome in my book, and while you can jump into this series with the basic information provided, I really do feel like I’m missing some larger revelations that probably arrived in one of the previous Trees series. Of course, this is partially on me for picking this up sight unseen, but at the same time, if Ellis wants people to come back to this series, or pick up the older series, then maybe he should have considered giving readers a little more tantalizing reasons behind the Trees to pique our interest.
Jason Howard’s art is an interesting mix of Ryan Ottley and Mike Avon Oeming, and it suits the series really well. Three Fates seems to be a much smaller event than the previous series, but that suits Howard’s style really well, as he gives the pages a nice sense of mood and pacing throughout the book. This wouldn’t be that far out of the realm of an HBO procedural drama, and it shows throughout the issue in Howard’s art.
Will I go back and check out the rest of Trees? I’m not so sure. But I do appreciate the fact that Ellis and Howard are using the backdrop they’ve set up to tell an interesting spin on the tried and true murder mystery, and it is neat to see this little indie book slowly set up it’s own universe, I can’t deny that I wish I was given a little more background information in this world to make it more interesting.
Absolute Carnage #1 (Marvel Comics)
It’s coming a little later this year, but we finally have this year’s major Marvel Summer event. Instead of a threat from beyond, this time the Marvel Universe is facing a Spidey-themed threat in the form of Carnage. Powered by the evil symbiote god Knull, Cletus Kasady is making up for lost time, and in Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman’s opening issue of Absolute Carnage, he’s making sure that everyone will remember his name.
Life’s been strange for Eddie Brock. Well, stranger than usual. Removed from his symbiote other, Brock has to take care of his estranged son (who doesn’t know he’s his son) while staying one step ahead of the police, who are on his trail for a being set up by Cletus Kasady. This would all go a lot smoother if Eddie still had his symbiote, but unlucky for him, it’s nowhere to be found, and Kasady is getting closer and closer to Eddie. But Kasady’s not only going after Eddie, he’s also going after every single person who’s ever worn a symbiote, which is quite a lot of people.
Donny Cates has hyped this event up a lot, and so far, he’s delivering the goods. His script succinctly recaps his run on Venom, and more importantly it sets up Carnage as an even bigger threat than he already is. There’s a strong sense of dread throughout the issue, and that comes from Cates’ carefully plotting the seeds for this event throughout his Venom run. Cates’ long-game strategy is paying off beautifully so far, and I can’t wait to see what other developments spring from it.
Ryan Stegman has been hard at work on this series, and it really shows. Stegman’s art has always been impressive, but it’s increased ten-fold with this issue. Stegman’s already impressive figure work and compositions are heightened, and they really make Cates’ script stand out. While Stegman’s Eddie Brock still looks physically imposing, he has an air of sadness to him that really comes through his body language. Brock’s clearly at his lowest point, but it’s going to be great seeing Stegman give him the heroic moment he deserves.
So far Marvel’s been on a pretty good streak with their big events, and it looks like Absolute Carnage will be another slam dunk for them. While it’s easy to jump into this event cold, you’ll probably get more if you read the start of Cates and Stegman’s Venom run, which is also pretty awesome to boot. For now though, Carnage has come calling, and it’s going to be hell for Marvel’s heroes.
Coffin Bound #1 (Image Comics)
A mix of Tim Burton and Mad Max, Coffin Bound is the latest title from Image Comics, and it’s pretty weird. Focusing on Izzy, a girl who’s being chased by an unstoppable creature called the Eartheater, the Dan Watters written, Dani drawn first issue is definitely one of the weirder comics on the stands. So weird, in fact, that it’s kind of hard to explain. There’s shades of David Lynch in this comic, but also grindhouse fare like Death Proof and a little bit of Evil Dead too. It leads to a book that’s pretty hard to follow, but definitely has it’s own unique style.
Watter’s script drops you right into the center of the action, and doesn’t give you a lot of time to find your footing. While usually I’m able to catch up pretty quickly, I don’t think this was the right call for this comic. Sure, dropping your reader into a universe is a viable way to start your story, but it has to be done in a specific way. Watters’ script just makes you feel disoriented, and it never really recovered for me.
Dani’s art is pretty pitch perfect for this issue. It fits the grindhouse style perfectly, and her weird monster designs are plenty creepy. Hopefully this book, which has a lot of hype around it, will help push her career onto more high profile books, as her work has a very unique look to it that seems to be plenty malleable for other genres.
While Coffin Bound didn’t quite work for me, I have to admit that it’s cool that it plays by its own set of rules. I’m sure this book will find plenty of people to give it a shot, and plenty more of them will want to keep up with it. As for me, it was a neat little diversion that unfortunately was not for me.
Wolverine vs Blade #1 (Marvel Comics)
Lots of times comics fall through the cracks. Whether a series is cancelled too early or it’s a one shot that’s been lost in a drawer somewhere, many times whenever there’s a comic coming out that seemingly has no real reason for being released, that’s the case. And it’s probably definitely the case for Marc Guggenheim and Dave Wilkin’s Wolverine vs Blade one shot, a comic that feels like a relic from the mid-00’s brought to today. Read the rest of this entry
Something happened that many thought never would: Robert Kirkman’s pop culture behemoth, The Walking Dead, is ending. Read the rest of this entry
The Flash #70 (DC Comics)
Nearly every DC character has had their own “Year One” story, except for the Flash. But all that is changing with Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter’s The Flash #70, which goes back in time to show some of Barry Allen’s earliest adventures after gaining his abilities. While it does retrace a few familiar beats of the Scarlet Speedster’s origins, Williamson uses this story to pepper in some new wrinkles that will play off of the current and future runs on the character. Read the rest of this entry
Fairlady #1 (Image Comics)
We’ve all seen the stories of a big war in a fantasy realm, but what happens when the war is over? That’s the main crux of Fairlady, a new fantasy series from Brian Schirmer and Claudia Balboni that plays a little like Lord Of the Rings, a little like Magnum P.I, and ends up being a whole lot of fun. Read the rest of this entry
Assassin Nation #1 (Image Comics)
What happens when a bunch of the world’s top assassins are put into a room together? It might look something like Assassin Nation, the new Image title from Ryan Starks and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl artist Erica Henderson. Unlike that Marvel title though, Assassin is very much an M-rated title, and it’s all the better for it, as Henderson’s talents aren’t hindered in the slightest by removing the restrictions of Marvel. Read the rest of this entry
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (Marvel Comics)
Despite becoming household names thanks to their mega-successful movies, The Guardians of the Galaxy still can’t quite make it as a comic series. The Brian Michael Bendis run petered out after a few years, and the relaunch with Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder served as more of a tie-in to the Infinity Wars event than it’s own series. So what’s Marvel to do? Create a new team of Guardians with the creatives behind the mega-hit Thanos run, Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw. Read the rest of this entry
Conan the Barbarian #1 (Marvel Comics)
Like Star Wars before him, the mighty Conan has made his return to Marvel Comics from Dark Horse. And also like Star Wars, he’s got Jason Aaron writing his new adventures. But that’s where the similarities end, because make no mistake, Conan The Barbarian, featuring art by Mahmud Asrar, is a truly brutal book, and marks a triumphant return to the publisher that made him famous in comics. Read the rest of this entry
Aquaman #43 (DC Comics)
Aquaman’s got a big budget movie coming out this week, which means that DC is hoping to have some fabled “new readers” coming into their local comic shops after their trip to the multiplex. To meet that, DC has a new creative team and a new direction on Aquaman, with famed writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Robson Rocha drawing the panels. While this new start is a bit of a drastic change for someone like me who’s read Aquaman since the New 52 relaunch, there’s enough here to keep me reading to see how it all shakes out. Read the rest of this entry