By Brandy Dykhuizen. Our Week In Review sums up our weekly comic book coverage while taking time for a new review or two before it’s all over. This week: ‘Betrothed’ #1, ‘Rocko’s Modern Life’ #4, and ‘VS’ #2.
Written by Stan Lewis.
Art by Steve Uy.
Colors by Steve Uy.
Letters by Simon Bowland.
To be clear, this ain’t no Romeo and Juliet. Tamara and Kieron hit that point home right off the bat in this star-crossed tale. I mean, the chemistry is there, to be sure. All the requisite wacky teenage hormones are there, wreaking havoc on sense and clouding judgment left and right. But there are other forces at play here, as well.
Stan Lewis poses the question, “What if the fate of two worlds relied on the whims of petulant but powerful entities?” Hmm. “What if,” indeed. The opposing forces in Betrothed, though, have little agency over their own free will at this point. Their plight was pre-arranged, and Tamara and Kieron are going to have to dig deep to find the strength to overcome what’s been laid out for them.
It’s an exciting story, full of battles leading up to an inevitable war. But there’s a kind of adorable, softer undertone, despite Tamara’s tough-as-nails persona, that just makes you want to give these kids a hug. Growing up has its rough patches, and Lewis has taken the teenage tendency to feel like the entire world is weighing on your shoulders and spun it into a fantastically fun reality.
Steve Uy’s art captures the determination and dreaminess of the characters perfectly. He glides easily between worlds, just as comfortable creating gorgeously glowing otherworldly layouts as he is drawing high school hallway tussles. He handled the scene in which the kids are transporting to a different world perfectly, using bursts of light to add a bit of modesty to their nudity. The kids remain naked and exposed, but, for the most part, not sexualized.
Betrothed is a fun twist on familiar themes. The characters are likeable and relatable, despite their crazy circumstances. By the end of the first issue, you’re really rooting for both of them. It’s quite the hook.
7.5 out of 10
Written by Ryan Ferrier.
Art by Ian McGinty.
Colors by Fred C. Stresing.
Letters by Jim Campbell.
How many of our problems stem from a simple misunderstanding? We miss a detail here, or we read too much into an action there, and suddenly we are five miles down a rabbit hole of our own making, practically speaking a different language once we finally emerge. Poor Mr. Bighead finds himself in such a quandary, pining away on the roof after his beloved Bev disappears.
The rest of the gang ignores past grievances and rises up to the rescue, determined not to let their neighbor waste away in misery. This is why so many people who say “I gotta get out of this town” never actually do – even if you’re a perennial jerk, the longer you know your neighbors, the more likely they are to help you in the end.
In that way, this issue was a little bit of a departure from Rocko’s usual path. Ryan Ferrier focused on the often disorienting language of love rather than letting Rocko drag his mates through yet another existential crisis. Making Mr. Bighead, the least lovable character in O-Town, the conduit of such a lesson underscores that just about everyone is deserving of empathy at some point in their life.
Despite the variation on theme, this issue of Rocko’s Modern Life was chock-full of the sweet (and slightly dark) silliness that keeps us coming back again and again. Puns your grandpa would be proud of are tossed around without pretense, while the gang’s individual flaws are magnified to the point of eclipsing all other aspects of their personality. Keep it coming, guys. We’re loving every minute of it.
7 out of 10
Written by Iván Brandon.
Art by Esad Ribić.
Colors by Nic Klein.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar.
War. What is it good for? Well, making people rich, for one thing. VS takes us to a time where we’ve learned to skip the pretense and make a reality show out of national battles. Soldiers no longer fight for their countries but for their paychecks. Entire armies are funded by entities or individuals looking to cash in on the violence and drama surrounding enemy lines. It’s an awfully cynical outlook, but Iván Brandon gives it just the right amount of bite to keep it fresh throughout.
Satta, the resident mercenary superstar, is fighting not only for victory, but to keep his star from setting. Younger, sleeker, faster soldiers are starting to pop up, and his ratings are in danger of slipping below the newbies. Nobody wants to watch an aging reality star, unless he’s getting phased out by the next generation.
Esad Ribić captures the claustrophobia of close combat, as soldiers fight for their lives, ricocheting off each other in a purposefully disorienting scene. When they are all coming at you at once, it’s hard to keep track of who to shoot.
The book had an oddly monochromatic feel to it, with several stretches containing very little contrast. But space snow is probably pretty blinding, lending everything the same bluish hue. The full page picture of the God-like Oversight Meteor is a visual treat, depicting a city full of rocket-shaped buildings surrounding a glowing, omniscient rock. People will always find something to pray to, in order to take the onus off themselves.
If you’re into space battles, biting satire and the fall of everything holy (and who isn’t?), then pick up a copy of VS. You won’t be disappointed.
6.5 out of 10
From earlier this week —
What books did YOU read this week? We want to know! Tell us about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.