Tuesday, December 21, 2010

DECEMBER TITLES: More BOOM! for your buck?

THE TRAVELER #2  (Boom! Studios, December 22, 2010 release)  Concepts by Stan Lee. Written by Mark Waid. Drawn by Chad Hardin. Colors by Blond. Letters by Ed Dukeshire. Covers by Scott Clark and Chad Hardin.

By necessity, TRAVELER Issue #1 was fast and furious.  Now that the set-up details have been taken care of - - just give Mark Waid a little breathing room and watch him go!   He starts to flesh out the characters more, give some more detail but also hold some back in order to build  the mystery, all while never forgetting the action that keeps everything moving.  Also, now that artist Chad Hardin has had one issues’ worth of experience to get familiar with drawing the primary characters - - he also stretches and expands his style, especially in the awesome action scenes .

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     It’s a nice change of pace to have some super-hero titles that aren’t based in major metropolitan areas (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc).  TRAVELER occurs in Richmond, Virginia - - although as depicted it’s hard to tell what city it is.  (Of course, I wouldn’t recognize  a Richmond landmark if I saw it - - as I’m not sure what makes it topographically different.)   NOTE: SPOILERS FOLLOW, EVEN SOME SPECULATIVE SPOILING.  . . . . . .

The opening pages are a nice showcase of some of the Traveler’s  (a.k.a. Kronos) powers.  He’s not a time traveler by nature  but is able to slow down or speed up time within a small area.  As Federal Agent Julia Martin attempts to arrest him he glimpses three possible visions of her future.  Two of the three result in death, so he prevents this by speeding up time and pulling her out of danger’s path.   He still has to stop Splinter of the Split Second Men - - so he moves space time just enough to allow him to levitate a cruising car and then accelerate time enabling him to hurl  the car at Splinter with supersonic force.  The perplexed driver of the car looks uncannily like Stan Lee.

      Kronos/Traveler’s body language reveals a little jealousy when Julia’s fiancée Ron shows up to comfort her after the rescue.   Why?   Well, one of the future visions that Kronos glimpsed showed he and Julia romantically together.  He also expresses concern that if he holds or touches her, she might figure out who he is - - and also regrets speaking the word “graviton” to her.

Julia’s father is  Doctor Martin, one of the partners of Martin-Colding Labs.  Julia and Ron (who works there) visit her father at the lab, which makes partner Colding a little irritated (based on his bothersome facial expressions when they arrive together).  Is this person the Traveler?  ( I suspect so. But how are the villains  connected to him? )  As Julia asks her father if the powers of the Split Second Men might be somehow connected to the “unified field research” Martin-Colding Labs is working on, Colding flips out that this info has been shared with her.  His facial expressions show even more concern when Julia mentions that the Traveler spoke of “gravitons” when explaining his powers to her.  That seems to be another concept or project at the lab.

    So far, the three persons being attacked by the Split Second Men appear to be randomly selected with no connection. Kronos flips out when he meets a fourth person who just crossed paths with two of the initial three targets.  It apparently violates some law of “time – space”.  There’s no time to worry as here comes Mortar, yet another Split Second Man.  Much more needs to be revealed/explained in coming issues.  It’s fun to guess while waiting for the next round.   The art and action are very entertaining.  Give some credit to the dynamic colors by Blond as well.  

DARKWING DUCK #7  (Boom! Studios, 12/15/2010 release date) Written by Ian Brill. Drawn by James Silvani. Colorist Andrew Dalhouse. Letterer Deron Bennett. Covers by James Silvani and Sabrina Alberghetti.

I grabbed this book because I wanted to see what type of work Boom! would be doing with some of the Disney properties.  It could have been any of a handful of titles that I started with - - I guess it was the cover with images revoking memories of Bob Kane’s Batman that made me pick up DARKWING DUCK.

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I made an assumption that the Disney books would be more likely to have single issue stories and I could pick one up at random and easily assimilate into the landscape.  Wrong!  I never imagined this book to be as complicated as it is.  Issue #7 continues “Crisis On Infinite Duckwings”  and is Part 3 of a 4 issue storyline.   What kept me from putting it back was the amazing art inside.  I also never expected a book aimed at younger readers to have art this detailed.  It’s simply beautiful, and worthy of your investigation.  I love the use of shadows and shading, very detailed backgrounds and somewhat complicated action scenes and fights that will challenge some of the youngest readers to follow.  (Although, I’d imagine this is a book that a parent would want to read to their child  --  explaining and answering questions as they go - - with the fringe benefit of the adult enjoying it just as much!)

Ian Brill’s an experienced and skilled writer and knows his way around a congested storyline.  It seems that Negaduck, Darkwing Duck’’s most evil foe, is grabbing inter-dimensional versions of Darkwing Duck and transporting them to St. Canard to wreak havoc on the town.  These doppelgangers resemble Darkwing in facial and body structure only - - taking on the costumes and appearances of famous monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, Mummy) as well as super-heroes (Hawkeye, Green Arrow, “Golden” Surfer, etc) and fantasy characters (the winged monkeys from Oz).   Megaduck and his accomplice Magica de Spell bear an uncanny resemblance to Daffy Duck and Daisy Duck.   The jokes are corny but funny and the book is fun to read.  You’ll want to check it out just for the amazing art alone.

CHIP  ‘N DALE RESCUE RANGERS #1  (Boom! Studios, December 01, 2010 release date) Written by Ian Brill. Drawn by Leonel Castellani. Colors by Jake Myler. Letters by Jason Arthur. Covers by Leonel Castellani, Magic Eye Studios, and Jake Myler.

This should be more like it  - - a #1 premiere issue.  No back story to catch up on.  Think again!   I think this book would also be challenging for the youngest readers - - who should also be the primary audience.  (Unless I need to reassess their reading skills.  Maybe I’m underestimating comprehension levels.  I’d be very happy if I was wrong and needed to correct my perceptions.)

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RESCUE RANGERS is a team book with a bunch of funny animals geared to share adventures and led by the brothers chipmunk  of Chip ‘N Dale.  (Chip is the more adventurous and responsible. Dale loves a prank.)  They are joined by young female mouse Gadget Hackwrench (the inventor),  older mustachioed mouse Monterey Jack (the sailor) , and Zipper the feisty housefly not afraid of a scrap when his friends are endangered.

The central theme of the first story is that animals throughout this fantasy world are acting rebellious, destructive and out-of-character.  The Rescue Rangers set out to investigate and fall into the hands of Pi-Rats (complete with eye patches, bandanas and cutlasses) as Issue #1 ends (to be continued of course).  The storyline attempts to give a little back-story on some of the characters, but it does so abruptly without any notice that the timeframe is changing from page to page.  That’s got to be confusing for a lot of readers.  It seems simple enough to correct with a caption for each change of scene that simply states “Now”  or “Then”  or “Much Earlier” or even something like “Two Years Ago”, etc.  

And, just like DARKWING DUCK  I am drawn to the amazing art in RESCUE RANGERS.  This is comics art the way I remember it  - - from reading WALT DISNEY’S COMICS & STORIES back in my youth.  The art is just as detailed as the Disney cartoons used to be during their prime.  Fantastic.  You should check this out.

28 DAYS LATER #18  (Boom! Studios, December 22, 2010 release date).  Written by Michael Alan Nelson. Drawn by Alejandro Aragon.  Colorist Nolan Woodard.  Letterer Johnny Lowe. Cover by Sean Phillips.

I’ll begin by saying that another intriguing cover captured my curiosity and I picked up this book not knowing what to expect.  Yet, I jumped on after 17 issues and picked up on this storyline much quicker and far easier than I did with the two funny animal books I just finished reading.  No further comment.

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Granted, I’ve seen the movie so I  know the basic storyline and I recognize Clint and Selena, the two characters featured here.  The book begins with them on the run, so I didn’t have to go over a bunch of exposition or caption boxes describing what went before.  It gets right into the story.

They are cautiously finding their way along the streets of a devastated and unidentified city in England, hoping to find a still-working car to get back to London, supposedly now a safe zone.  They see a car that may work but decide to keep an eye on it from afar, before moving in after nightfall.  They were right to suspect a trap.  They fool their hunter and make their getaway.

I love the opening of this book.  The combination of effective art and scripted pacing pulled me right into the story and made me want to follow it to its conclusion.  28 DAYS LATER appears to be a very stylish book in both story and art.  It seems to move at a careful methodical pace. Yet, the reader will be glad of that when rewarded with such cinematic drama when the car chase actually begins, like watching the best action movie in slow motion.  I’m impressed. 

It takes 11 pages for this opening act to play out.  The middle pages are free of dialogue and captions and let the visuals tell the story.  It’s a delight to behold. 

The alleged British officer, Captain Stiles, seems to be stalking Selena and wants to take her into his custody for unknown reasons.  She doesn’t recognize him or know his motives, yet she and Clint are fearfully running for their life from this relentless hunter.  Just when they feel safer after running into some American NATO forces, things get crazy. 

Some months ago, I finally began to explore THE WALKING DEAD and fell for it hook, line and sinker.  Now it looks like another zombie-themed book has me mesmerized.   I need more.

2 comments:

  1. I'm a huge fan of the Darkwing Duck cartoon series, and I was really happy with the new comic until they ventured into the multiverse stuff. Honestly, I can get as much of that as I want elsewhere.

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  2. Sounds like I need to check out the earier issues, before the current storyline. Still, if the Crisis on Infinite Duckwings encourages young readers to check out the real deal at DC = then it could have happy consequences. Thanks for the info.

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