By Molly Jane Kremer, Brandy Dykhuizen, and Jarrod Jones. Our Week In Review collects our thoughts on the comics that demand attention. Do you have a deep-rooted desire to know what we think about all your favorite books? Well. This is where you need to be.
Sheriff of Babylon #3
Written by Tom King.
Art by Mitch Gerads.
Letters by Travis Lanham.
Cover by John Paul Leon.
MJ: A study of good intentions amid a murky quagmire of war, religion, and profit, Sheriff of Babylon is undoubtedly Vertigo’s best new series, and easily one of the finest comics being published anywhere. Writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads make for an incredible team, each working towards the others’ remarkable talents. They’re arguably one of the strongest creative teams making comics right now. Gerads continues to be an understated artistic powerhouse; his impressive eye for detail and his gorgeously expressive acting combines with King’s sparse, graceful dialogue for panel after panel of moody and affective storytelling.
All three main characters remain equally engaging and sympathetic, despite each working their own particular angle to reach their own particular goals. Sofia, especially, is one of the most enjoyably multifaceted characters to recently debut, and Gerads’ subtle (and total) grasp of expression allows her delicate precision and quiet resolve to be communicated fully via visuals. King’s writing, too, enables more characterization than should be possible in his satisfying dialogue; when Sofia wisely tells Christopher, “all Americans are cowboys. If we were not, why would we be here?” it resonates in so many ways.
Such finesse allows Sheriff of Babylon to be a quiet, nearly meditative comic, until it isn’t. As is the case in a war zone, incidents of violence are quick, messy, startling (if not unsurprising)… and loud. Each of the three main characters find themselves constantly surrounded by dangers seen and unseen. This issue emphasizes that though they may be protected, none of them are truly safe.
9.5 out of 10
Mystery Girl #3
Dark Horse Comics/$3.99
Written by Paul Tobin.
Art by Alberto J. Alburquerque.
Colors by Marissa Louise.
Letters by Marshall Dillon.
BD: Paul Tobin pens an intense ride from cover to cover, as Trine battles sociopaths, wolves, and history in remote Siberia. While her nemesis is in the air, Trine strikes first to dispose of the goons trailing her dear friends back in London. Knowing everything can offer all sorts of security, after all. But the leg-ups never seem to last very long in Mystery Girl, and with all her friends neatly placed safe and sound in the first few pages, we know that it would be wise to expect the other shoe to drop sooner than later.
Leaving London for Siberia gives Alburquerque a chance to have fun with snow and clouds. His depiction of the eerie silence that comes with a snow-covered landscape, and the pale yellow-blue sky across miles and miles of ice made me shiver, content to witness that sort of beauty from my living room. As this issue concludes: “There are no mysteries out here, Trine. Only the snow, the storm. Nature is very honest in what it wants. It wants you dead.”
Perhaps Linford’s assessment of nature’s designs is a bit egocentric (nature could not give a rat’s ass about who or what is in her path), but Linford’s intentions are certainly clear: he is out for blood. We get the impression that his curiosity about Trine has cultivated the closest thing an utter psycho could feel to respect, and that is why he fails to kill her outright. Part of him wants to know if she can come out of this alive.
Issue #3 contained so much action that finding the mammoths, which was the entire point of the story up until now, seemed almost like a footnote. The big reveal was sandwiched between two massacres, one historical and one very present and real. The behemoths got lost in the moment. But then, priorities have a tendency shift when you’re surrounded by death.
8 out of 10
Invincible Iron Man #6
Written by Brian Michael Bendis.
Art by Mike Deodato.
Colors by Frank Martin.
Letters & Design by VC’s Clayton Cowles.
JJ: I want to love Invincible Iron Man. I purchase each issue faithfully. I set it at the top of my teetering stack of “must-reads”, and I open it with enthusiastic anticipation every single time. And somehow, with each successive issue, I find myself deflated. Just a little bit.
That’s not because Invincible Iron Man is ultimately a sub-par book. It’s not. Up until this week, the book’s marquee boasted the writing talents of Marvel’s MVP Brian Michael Bendis and Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man artist extraordinaire David Marquez, a team that could only improve every single superhero book out there with their presence. The story, as I said in my review for its debut issue, is dotty and amusing enough for the curious moviegoer (especially those who love Iron Man 2), but Marquez’s visuals keep the pages turning at a steady clip. I just can’t tell if Brian Bendis is throwing everything he has into Iron Man, but when the art is this good, I can nip any nagging suspicions in the bud.
But things were only going to change. David Marquez can’t maintain his sterling quality without the appropriate amount of time given to him. And we’re on the cusp of a new storyarc. The rapidly exhausting new superhero comic paradigm dictates that the reader be treated by a new artist for the length of this new story. (Presumably no one up in editorial likes to get too attached.) So with Marquez’s departure comes Mike Deodato.
Deodato, who gave us a career-defining performance with Original Sin, looks to be coasting on all his artistic goodwill with Invincible Iron Man #6. The photo-references employed by certain industry workhorses are generally excused because there are bigger and far more important things to consider. Brian Michael Bendis’ reliably well-structured yarn (to say nothing of his banter, which grows wearing more often now than it ever used to) is related through an uncanny valley’s worth of Deodato’s co-opted paneling. It’s difficult to stay immersed within a comic book when the talking heads begin to take the vague form of famous people. Colorist Frank Martin isn’t merely filling in space with emotive hues and nuanced gradience, he’s practically doing all the hard work for Deodato. That Invincible Iron Man #6 looks as good as it does is more a testament to Frank Martin’s diligence than it is an acknowledgment that Mike Deodato knows how to draw Vincent Cassel.
5.5 out of 10
Agree? Disagree? What books are YOU reading this week? We want to know! Tell us about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.