By Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod Jones. Our Week In Review serves to fill in the gaps our frequently verbose comic book coverage leaves behind. Each week, we take a brief look into the books that demand attention.
Dark Horse Comics/$3.50
Written by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich
Art by Joëlle Jones; colors by Laura Allred.
JJ: The more and more I think about Lady Killer, the more I think that the five issues the series has been allotted will simply not be enough.
That’s not only because I enjoy the premise behind this fantastic series and I’ll hate to see it go — because I so, so do, and I so, so will — it’s because I’m four issues deep into this book, and it’s already very nearly done. How the hell did that happen? Lady Killer is happening way too fast.
That’s right, I said it. The world of Josie Schuller is zooming by so quickly, that the insane amount of drama that this issue has in store for us hardly has time to register. As I absorbed Joëlle Jones’ gorgeous illustrations, coupled with the book’s reliably sharp dialogue, questions began to gnaw at my head: Where is Grandma Schuller? Where will her suspicions of Josie take this story? Is there enough time to resolve that subplot? Is Gene really as blissfully ignorant of his wife’s secret life as he appears to be? Who is Peck really, and what is his history with Josie? Why is Josie finally looking to get out of the murder-for-hire lifestyle? What does she do with the money she earns? AAAAAH.
It’s moments like these where I remind myself to breathe and enjoy the ride while it lasts, because, like it or not, Josie’s story is coming to a close next month. And while it looks like Jones and Rich will be going their separate ways to engage in other fruitful endeavors, if there was ever a book that needed its creative team to consider a sequel — or a full-on series, dammit — it was certainly Lady Killer.
8 out of 10
Written by John Layman.
Art by Otto Schmidt.
MJ: Since last summer, the Guardians of the Galaxy have become one of the hottest properties in comics. Aside from the Guardians ongoing, we now have both a Legendary Star-Lord and a Rocket Raccoon series, soon to be followed by Gamora, and a Groot miniseries. It should be no surprise then that we now have Guardians Team-Up, which has been released almost weekly since its first issue debuted at the beginning of last month. And those first three weeks were pretty forgettable: the first two issues were team-ups with the Avengers (of the “Blockbuster Collector’s Item First Issue!” sort) and the third issue was part six in the seemingly endless Black Vortex crossover. But the fourth issue out this week — penned by comics veteran John Layman and pencilled, inked and colored by newcomer Otto Schmidt — is a fast-paced and fun done-in-one, which provides hope for the books full potential.
The issue pairs up She-Hulk and Gamora, two of Marvel’s preeminent ladies (who also both happen to be a lovely shade of green… maybe Mantis was busy?). In John Layman’s more than capable hands, the plot stays light, the dialogue snappy, and he manages to make Ms. Jennifer Walters’ voice sound delightfully consistent with what she had in the late, great She-Hulk series (written by Charles Soule). The true star of this comic, however, is artist Otto Schmidt, covering art duties with his first American gig. While he’s mostly known for his exceptional good girl art (caution: here be NSFW), here he reigns in his penchant for pin-ups and draws twenty pages of Jen and Gamora simply kicking all kinds of alien ass. His style at times shares the kinetic cuteness of Babs Tarr’s work, while displaying detailed backgrounds and an innate storytelling ability.
Guardians Team-Up #4 offers a level of fast-paced and concise enjoyment not often seen in modern comics, especially in comparison to interminable, months-long, multi-series crossovers like Black Vortex. This writer can only hope Marvel manages to keep perfect little bite-size issues like this a part of its roster, and that this series’ rotating creative teams can reach the high bar set by Messrs. Layman and Schmidt.
8.5 out of 10
Written by Peter J. Tomasi.
Art by Juan Jose Ryp, Jordi Tarragona, Juan Albarran; colors by Sonia Oback.
JJ: Witnessing a father and son bond can make for a pretty sweet story. But watching a father and son bond on the damn moon is downright poignant.
Squeezing in one final Batman and Robin yarn before Convergence does whatever the hell it’s supposed to do, DC Comics has published the third annual to Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Mick Gray’s top-notch series. (How many New52 books can boast that?) And while the art boys sit this entry out, Tomasi’s reliably strong characterization remains, making the issue a fine entry for the series.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the book (much like DC’s approach to their Annual program) feels more like an passive afterthought, or a vessel through which an unused script finally saw the light of day.
The annual’s story — where Robin surprises his father on the Justice League satellite, only to discover trouble on the Moon — is as easy as comics get. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But Tomasi doesn’t seem to feel the need to add any of his typical flourish to all this breeziness. (Batman’s half-assed armchair wisdom grows tiresome before long, and I can’t imagine that an aristocrat like Damian would suffer bumper sticker advice like “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”) On paper — where the comic does indeed lie — the idea is amusing enough. But this “Caped Crusaders in Space” yarn is an easily forgettable effort.
But there are positives. Giving the Dynamic Duo an opportunity to bop around the surface of the Moon is as adorable as any fan of the book could imagine (oh, Titus the Bat-Dog comes along too), and Sonia Oback’s colors gel magnificently with Juan Jose Ryp’s artwork; their double-page splash on the surface of the moon — where Earth shines brilliantly off in the distance — literally made me dizzy. (Although someone on the book — be it writer Peter Tomasi or editor Rachel Gluckstern — probably would have benefited with a physics advisor: Where there’s no air, there’s no sound, and where there’s no sound there are no damn sound effects.)
But hey! We all learned that Hawaii’s Kilauea is the most active volcano on Earth. And to me, that’s worth something.
7 out of 10
Written by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Clio Chiang, Joy Ang, and Vera Brosgol.
Art by Jeff Stokely, Clio Chang, Joy Ang, and Vera Brosgol; Colors by Jenny Donovan, Clio Chang, Joy Ang, and Sonia Oback.
MJ: Gotham Academy’s tie-in to the big, bad Batman saga Endgame is that wonderful sort of book that can be successfully read either as a tie-in, or as a part of its ongoing series. (Publishers try to claim that most crossover tie-ins have that selfsame narrative independence-within-dependence, but mostly they’re just fibbin’.) It’s a lighthearted and creepy anthology of sorts that works with a definite Goosebumps vibe: The bookending sequence is written by series regular writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, drawn by Jeff Stokely, and colored by Jenny Donovan, showcasing the Gotham Academy students that we all know and love barricaded within the school gym (and adorably camping out in rows tents) to keep safe from the Joker virus that’s plaguing the city. (And Maps gives the best description and dismissal of the Joker I’ve heard in a while: “What’s to know? He’s crazy and he used to interrupt my cartoons a couple of times a year until we got Webflix.”)
Stokely and Donovan communicate the mounting creepfest very well (the oversized teeth of the infected — not just their smiles — are ridiculously unsettling), along with the warm safety the Academy provides to its students. The other three artists/teams each have four pages with which to relate their dialogue-less Joker tale. All are gorgeously illustrated, boasting the same quality you’d expect from a high-quality children’s book. Clio Chang’s story has the mixed media look of colored pencils and watercolors, giving it an organic depth that heightens the reader’s connection. Joy Ang’s story is much more clean and exact, but is probably the most subtly terrifying because of its simplicity (it was my favorite because of that.). Vera Brosgol and Sonia Oback’s story has the most blatant reference to the Clown Prince of Crime, and has the most story jammed into its four pages. It also is the only one to contain any actual violence, when the main character smashes a mirror apart.
So far, all of Endgame’s tie-ins (or at least the ones I’ve read) have been consistent and enjoyable. If only all tie-ins kept their nature as subtle as these and stayed true to each ongoing series’ themes and styles, superhero comics’ constant events and crossovers would be that much more tolerable. DC’s Bat-books, yet again, are forging ahead in quality and in content, and have managed to make me care about a crossover I hadn’t given much thought to. (It was mostly Maps’ fault.)
8 out of 10
Agree? Disagree? What comics are YOU reading this week? Let us know by leaving a comment below.