August's Number Ones

We're past the halfway point of  August, and already some tantalizing new comics series have come out. Let's take a look at a few of them. As always, I hope to suggest things you might like, and steer you off things I didn't.
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman by various creative teams, first issue by Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver for DC Digital. Out-of-continuity stories about Wonder Woman? Yes, please. It's not that I haven't enjoyed the New52 series, but it's been a drawn out affair that doesn't leave room to show other colors. The alternative is Diana as Superman's violent girlfriend in Justice League and S/WW, and handing the Amazon over to David Finch is likely to make me drop the book and not look back, so... I welcome a Wonder Woman anthology likely to give us more interpretations with open arms, and am pretty stoked there's a book called Sensation Comics again. But do I like the first story? I'm not sure I do. On the one hand, it's Gail Simone on Diana again, featuring Oracle, which is awesome. We're clearly in a pre-Flushpoint continuity, and that's great. Unfortunately, before WW is called in to Gotham to help Barbara Gordon, our Amazon Princess is too long absent from her own series. Not a fan of Ethan Van Sciver's art either, and there's something wonky about Diana's lower half, switching between shorts and a bikini bottom from panel to panel. Ultimately, "Sensation Comics" only "features" Wonder Woman, so turning in a Birds of Prey-ish story is within the bounds of reason. I just wish the focus was more on Diana in this first issue.
Keep reading? I read Legends of the Dark Knight until I got bored with it. I read Adventures of Superman until I got bored with it. So I'll read this until I do the same. I just find it unfortunate the first story isn't one I particularly appreciated (it's a two-parter, so it's hard to judge). It'll be followed by a story drawn by Cat Staggs whose art I don't like at all, so it may take me a while to declare the new Sensation a winner. For those who insist on print editions, the first three issues are supposedly out in stores today under the same cover.
Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers by Joe Casey, Nathan Fox, Jim Rugg, and Ulises Farinas for Dynamite. I'm always game for a little Kirbyverse, and enjoyed the previous iteration that threw everything in the same pile (also at Dynamite). This series is a cold reboot and has nothing to do with the previous series, giving us a brief "origin" of Captain Victory as an immortal strategist forced to jump from clone body to clone body, and surrounded by a crew of odd Kirby designs holding back the darkness. But instead of sticking to the space opera genre, an accident sends an immature Captain Victory body to 20th-century Earth to have adventures of its own. And then another body crash lands on some alien(?) world. The use of multiple artists here may indicate the series will take place across various planes of existence. Joe Casey insists he wants to honor Kirby's creations by making the stories as crazy and balls-to-the-wall as the King's own, and it's a set-up that could certainly help him do that. The art is dynamic and more than a little indie, which I like, though it sometimes makes the designs look ugly and the action hard to read. Still, the potential is immense, which isn't something I've ever said about any issue of Captain Victory (Pacific, Topps or Dynamite), ever before.
Keep reading? Internet pal Michel Fiffe is doing art for the second issue, so just on that basis, I'd say yes, but my interest in Kirby concepts is well served by this series, which can only get more coherent and interesting through its first few months.
Dark Ages by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard for Dark Horse. Medieval soldiers vs. alien monsters is the brief, and I appreciate the way the former understand the latter in religious terms. I also like Culbard's simple, clean line. His monsters are memorable, his colors atmospheric and his action flows like animation. I can't connect to any of the characters, however. They're not exactly cookie-cutter, and the narrator is meant to be our POV character, but... it all left me a little cold. Like the premise is more important than the characters. Ah, I know what it felt like: Cowboys & Aliens. Not bad by any means, but ultimately unremarkable.
Keep reading? I hate to pan this series - I think it'll work for other readers, and even more myself in trade format - but as a serial, it has failed to get me to read a second issue.
Terminal Hero by Peter Milligan and Piotr Kowalski for Dynamite's Creators Unleashed label. Speaking of disappointments... While initially glad to find Jae Lee only did the cover (his inability to draw backgrounds drives me mad), I found the story itself lacking. It's all about a man who gets an experimental treatment for his brain tumor and develops mental powers and hallucinations. Not a particularly original story, but it's the way it's told that bores me. I like Fletcher, the lead character, but the changes in his life are abrupt and glossed over in a most undramatic way. It's weird. He's getting better and then there's a hallucination and then he uses powers and then... It just moves from one thing to the other without really letting us feel it through some necessary transition. Or rather, that we don't see immediate consequences to some on-panel horror, and that makes the narrative disjointed, its peaks resolving into flat lines.
Keep reading? No, sorry. I had hopes, but they were dashed.
Hexed by Michael Alan Nelson and Dan Mora for Boom! Of all the series selected for this piece, Hexed was the one I thought I'd like least (just too many supernatural genre series vying for my attention lately), but ended up liking best. I didn't even know it was a follow-up mini-series to another Hexed mini now some years old, but it makes sense. There's some huge backstory at play in this story of an art thief with magical powers called Lucifer and her world. And yet, it worked without my knowing anything about it. (I mean to look for it now.) It's a rare book that has female characters vastly outnumber male ones (without it being the point of the series, that is), and they're all interesting. The dialog is sassy and the ideas, if dense to the new reader, are fun and interesting. I don't know if Lucifer is really connected to the Biblical devil, but she does have devilish opponents as interesting as she and her allies are. Dan Mora takes over art duties left by the original series' Emma Rios (who still supplies the cover), and his manga-inspired art meets hers halfway, with a fluid, dynamic line that manages more reality than Rios' usual style.
Keep reading? Yes, and I'm also going to go and find myself a Hexed vol.1 collection somewhere.

So not my most positive of capsule reviews, but maybe we can find more winners in a couple weeks when August has run its course.


Madeley said...

Hexed is also a spin-off from Michael Alan Nelson's Fall of Cthulhu title from a few years ago. I'm a big fan of this series, a real gem of a horror comic that's somewhat overlooked. Any Lovecraft fan should definitely take a look at it.

Señor Editor said...

Same deal for me as far as Dark Ages go. I thought it might be one of the books I'll review in August, but it just felt like a mess. Best new August titles for me? "Nightworld", "Sundowners" and "The Fade Out". All great #1 issues. We reviewed all of these, so if you're interested, visit our home page.


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