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.
Lady Killer #1
Story by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich.
Art Joëlle Jones; colors by Laura Allred.
I’ve never been shy in admitting that one of my absolute favorite films of all time is John Waters’ Serial Mom. Starring Kathleen Turner as a suburban housewife to a dentist and their two nimrod teenagers, the film depicts the actress as a woman stifled by boredom, who has fostered so much internal angst that the only way she can persevere is to occasionally spill some blood. It’s a terrific film that is as much hilarious as it is cathartic. Next time someone really pisses you off, stream this movie. It’ll do you some good.
So it’s no small wonder that I met Joëlle Jones and Jamie Rich’s Lady Killer with a pair of raised eyebrows: was this for real? Did anyone really think that the parallels between Dark Horse’s latest creator-owned property and John Waters’ indictment on American banality would go unnoticed? Thank goodness I bothered to take a closer look; my prejudices damn near cost me the pleasure of reading Jones & Rich’s darkly hilarious, blood-soaked soap opera. And to clarify – superficial parallels aside, Serial Mom couldn’t be further removed from Lady Killer. It is truly its own beast.
Jones and Rich craft a tightly-knit melodrama rife with the blackest of humor, sharply tuned dialogue, and a appropriately gripping cliffhanger. (And it certainly doesn’t shy away from its sudden and ferocious bouts of mayhem: a kitchen fight strongly recalls Kill Bill, in all the right ways.) Jones’ artwork is slick and gorgeous, a harmonious blend of Paul Pope and Peter Chung. (And the manner in which she stages that opening kill is as suspenseful as it is shocking.) As far as opening salvos go, I’m in for the next issue of Lady Killer. And I can still enjoy John Waters’ work as a separate entity. For that, I’m truly grateful. And relieved.
8.5 out of 10
Written by Matt Fraction.
Art by Christian Ward; color flatting by Dee Cunniffe.
Not many comic books attempt the lofty, literate, high-art goals Matt Fraction and Christian Ward aim for with ODY-C – a gender-bent sci-fi retelling of Homer’s Odyssey – and even fewer bypass the self-importance and pretension that would typically accompany such a work. So far, on their second issue in the series, Fraction and Ward have succeeded admirably in creating a comic book full of heart-stopping beauty: visually, aurally, and intellectually.
ODY-C #2 showcases some strange ideas about parenting: opening with a splash page of the god Zeus murdering her father, the titan Cronus, we see her tear his head off in a pastel-rainbow explosion of color, punctuated with, the caption, “… so let me tell you how I feel about children”. Moving on from that, Zeus destroys all men to prevent the possibility of her own future matricide in a chilling double page spread (in which Ward rendered over a hundred tiny human faces, some in varying stages of death and decay), and after, damns her own daughter Promethene to a drug-fueled madness for the crime of helping life find a way. But the gods’ capriciousness makes for a fantastic comic.
As in the last issue (and in most of Ward’s existent work) each page of art merits at least a few additional moments of contemplation, if not a complete reread. Both single and double page splashes abound in this comic, and none feel superfluous or extravagant, their grandiosity necessitated by the epic nature of the book itself. Ward’s surreal illustrations give the comic even more of an otherworldly quality, and with the addition of Fraction’s words – partially-metered poetry, with a modern twist or two thrown in – a gorgeous and engrossing read awaits.
9 out of 10
Written by Charles Soule.
Art by Nick Bradshaw, Alisson Borges, and Walden Wong; colors by FCO Plascencia.
Even though Logan is good and thoroughly dead, Marvel has zero intention of missing out on an opportunity to profit on his name. And with their Distinguished Competition killing it on the weekly-book front as of late (with Batman Eternal, Earth 2: World’s End, and Futures End), what the hell, let’s start the insanity: Marvel has decided to unleash its first weekly ongoing series. Here’s hoping the momentum set forth with this solid premiere issue can last.
Any doubt that Wolverines will maintain that strength can be appropriately sated by the presence of Charles Soule. As the author to some of our very favorite books from last year, Soule – who, it should obviously be noted, wrote The Death of Wolverine – is the man perfectly suited to craft a continually engrossing saga worthy of the ol’ Canucklehead’s memory. That he bothers to make a weekly book this engaging is a testament to the strong potential this project has in abundance.
Giving the book a solid foundation to build upon is the fluid artwork of Nick Bradshaw and Walden Wong. Together, they give Wolverines an Art Adams-esque impact, pitting a rag-tag squad of survivors from Dr. Cornelius’ infamous Paradise against the notoriously harsh Wrecking Crew, both seeking one prize – the adamantium-encased body of the Wolverine. Bradshaw’s pencils pace Soule’s scripted moods beautifully, shifting from ominous to bombastic with a minimum of fuss. The abrupt inclusion of Alisson Borges’ artwork – during an especially jarring plot twist – give the book a slapdash aura that doesn’t necessarily help matters. So, yeah. This latest weekly series may require some straightening out, but if Soule & Co. succeed in doing simply that, this book has the potential to truly be the best there is at what it does.
7.5 out of 10
Operation S.I.N. #1
Written by Kathryn Immonen.
Art by Rich Ellis; colors by Jordan Boyd.
Marvel did a clever thing last week: the day after their new television miniseries Agent Carter debuted (to high praise, I might add) they had a brand new comic featuring the same lead character, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Peggy Carter, fresh on the shelves of local comic shops. It’s a little puzzling to see it branded as a tie-in to last year’s crossover event Original Sin, and even moreso in that there seems to be very little in Operation relating to that event. (Although it is pleasant to see Marvel attempting to give a crossover some semblance of legacy instead of immediately steamrolling it to make way for the next big thing!)
Kathryn Immonen’s dialogue is as fresh and snappy as usual, and she was a perfect pick to write hard-as-nails, take-no-shit Agent 13. Taking place in the early fifties, after Peggy has been out-of-commission for many years, Howard Stark pulls her back in, and she jets off to Moscow to help investigate a mysterious object. It’s simple enough, but Immonen throws in enough whipsmart back-and-forth and intriguing characters to keep it interesting.
The art by Rich Ellis and Jordan Boyd is satisfactory, and it fits the era in which the story takes place. They communicate the sooty dinginess of communist Russia, and the action scene at the beginning is fun and well-choreographed (and kudos on Peggy’s era-correct pajamas). Marvel is spotlighting yet another one of their kick-ass ladies, and the result is a legitimately entertaining read, especially for someone whose curiosity was piqued by the equally thrilling Agent Carter.
8 out of 10
Action Comics #38
Written by Greg Pak.
Art by Aaron Kuder, Jae Lee and June Chung; colors by Wil Quintana.
When I think about the Superman stories I’ve truly loved, they all typically share one recurring trait: they built from legacy. Characters came and went, and from 1986 to around 1997, everything about the Superman books – both good and bad – meant something more than they otherwise would because each subsequent saga spun from what came before. That attention to detail just wasn’t shared in the Super-books of the New52.
Until now. Either Greg Pak is as much of a fan of the late-80s/early-90s Superman line as I am, or he just knows how to tell a compelling story. (It’s probably both.) Either way, his Horrorville – spinning out from the prolonged debacle that was Doomed – casts so much shade on everything that has transpired in Superman’s world since 2011 due to its sheer magnificence. While Geoff Johns is trying to make marginalized supporting players like Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen mean something – anything – over in Superman, Pak has effortlessly given Lana Lang and John Henry Irons the rich characterization befitting of DC Comics’ flagship title. Pak and artist Aaron Kuder are definitely the creative team the New52 Superman deserves.
And Horrorville‘s latest chapter takes our younger, more emotionally vulnerable Man of Steel to the darkest places he’s ventured into yet, giving us our first post-Flashpoint full appearance by the deceased Kent family, here depicted as a duo of nightmarish living dead who espouse untruths cunningly intertwined with personal truths only Clark Kent could know. Pitting Superman against the unknown is old hat. But throwing him into a battle against something he can’t possibly defeat on his own only gives Pak and Kuder’s Action Comics run that much more strength. At the end of the day, we all know that Superman will save us. But how he accomplishes that is what makes Superman books worth reading.
8.5 out of 10
Written by G. Willow Wilson.
Art by Roland Boschi and Jay Leisten; colors by Lee Loughridge.
The all-female (and adjectiveless) X-Men book has been a bit directionless for the past few months, since writer Brian Wood left the title in July 2014. And while a writer with sexual harassment allegations might not have been the best fit for a comic featuring a team made up of ladies, Marvel has now put writer G. Willow Wilson on the title, the writer who has made Kamala Khan – the new Ms. Marvel, and star of one of Marvel’s breakout hits of last year – a household name for many comics fans in 2014.
Unfortunately X-Men #23 has neither the energy nor the excitement that the endearing Ms. Marvel boasts. The issue’s action is split between a Utah supercell-storm-slash-sinkhole and the Jean Grey School back in Westchester, and unfortunately much of it is taken up by Storm’s verbose narration, which, sadly, borders on dull. When the comic gets back to the rest of the team, Wilson’s trademark sparkling interactions pick up the pace a bit, especially when Jubilee is on panel. (Wilson has a definite knack for younger characters’ dialogue and it shows).
The art – with Roland Boschi on pencils, Jay Leisten on inks and Lee Loughridge on colors – tries for a stylized look that on occasion veers into sloppy territory, with an emphasis on the lax approach to backgrounds. But the visuals, while conventional, aren’t unpleasant in any way. Wilson’s other works heightened my expectations on this book, and while I’ll stick with the title in the hopes of improvement, this issue left me rather unsatisfied.
7 out of 10
Agree? Disagree? Which books did YOU like last week? Let us know in the comments section below.