IV-Blog Page 2014

 New Comic Reviews 10/31/14

Apologies for no review last week. I didn’t have time to get to the comic store that week.  But without further ado, let’s get back on track! This week is a little different, as I’ll be looking at THREE Indie/Other section, as nothing really caught my eye at the Big Two this week.  Plus, I wanted to take a look at some truly indie comics, so I nabbed a couple from Comixology’s Submit section. For those who don’t know, the digital comic site has a section for new and upcoming comic book creators to sell their comics.

And with that, let’s get started with Wayward # 3, The Harlem Shadow # 1, and Freedom Love Forever.

Wayward # 3

Writer: Jim Zub

Artist: Steve Cummings

Colors: John Rauch, Jim Zub, Tamara Bonvillian

Letters: Marshall Dillon

Cover: Steve Cummings, Ross A. Campbell

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy this series? I don’t think I’ve expressed it enough.

In all seriousness though, this was yet again a fun read. This issue has Rori and her new friend Shirai (an angry, but scared boy with superhuman abilities at the cost of having to feed off of spirits to survive), as they try to figure out their strange powers, particularly Rori’s unexplained ability to see pathways and patterns no one else can see and the power to make magic kanji symbols despite her kanji skills being terrible. Along the way they run into Ayane (the oddball girl with cat-like abilities) and a young homeless boy with strange abilities of his own, and face off against a rather creepy ghost known as “Crazy Bones.”

Once again, Jim Zub has chosen to make the trickle of information as to what exactly is going on to a slow drip, building it up slowly, and making it a complete mystery for both the readers and Rori’s gang. The characters continue to be likable, especially Ayane, who is quite a hyperactive and cute cat girl (no, that THAT kind of cat girl).

The artwork continues to be superb.  One thing I like about this series is the creator’s choice to make the Yokai in the series legitimately monstrous and creepy looking over falling back onto the typical “humanizing” or “sexualizing” a lot of these myths have gotten in anime and other media. In particular, some kitsune (Japanese shape shifting fox spirits) appear briefly, and instead of being the typical “sexy girl” or “prettyboy” with fox ears and a tail you’d see in anime, they’re instead shown more as werewolf-like warriors.

Another thing I enjoy about this series is the extra content in the back. Typically whenever a new Yokai appears the back will have a brief description of it along with some nice sketches of said creature.

Once again, Jim Zub does not disappoint. Wayward is an excellent book that tells a fantastical story in an authentically-written Japan, and I eagerly await Issue 4.

Rating:

Story:  4/5

Art: 5/5

Characters: 4/5

Overall: 4.5/5

Recommendation: A definite must read!

The Harlem shadow # 1

Writer: Brian Williams

Art: Rodolfo Buscaglia

Letters: Derek King

Cover: Christian Colbert

As I passed by this one on Comixology Summits’ new releases,  I kind of rolled my eyes thinking from a title like “The Harlem Shadow” that this was going to be some parody comic like “Black Frankenstein” or something like that. But as I read the description I realized this was a serious comic, and the name wasn’t trying to be a parody of that OTHER certain fedora-clad crime fighter.  I decided to give it a read, and I am glad that I did.

The comic is told from an audio-biographical sense from the titular “Harlem Shadow,” who (as a brief introduction piece gives) was the first black superhero in this universe, and led an exciting but sadly short-lived life as a paranormal investigator and crime fighter who took on the gangs and other social and criminal ills plaguing Harlem in the 1930s, who would eventually fall prey to Johnny Law and be imprisoned.  The first issue tells the story of his first outing as Harlem’s nightly defender.

While I get that the writer was going for an auto-biographical feel to the story, I feel like he shouldn’t have divulged so much of what was doomed to befall the protagonist right then and there.  It takes away the suspense of what will happen to the Harlem Shadow as the series continues. But, then again, with the end being he’s unmasked and imprisoned for twenty years, perhaps it was best to get that out in the open and treat it like this is the story of everything that happened to this historical character in-between those cliff-notes.

Aside from that minor complaint, the story for this issue was good, if seen before. The pitfall that all “Men of Mystery” types of stories have to avoid is the protagonist coming off as “every other fedora-clad, masked crime fighter with a mean left hook and an unbending sense of justice.” I’ve said before that while the likes of the Shadow or the Green Hornet are iconic, their character type can get old really fast if you don’t do something different with them.  Brian Williams avoids this pitfall due to the unique setting and character. One aspect that a lot of “period superhero comics” don’t particularly cover that often is the what the struggles and trials of a superhero of color in the time periods of the 30s,40s, and 50s, would be like where (sadly) most superheroes in comic books were one thing: white.  This is something that the comic plans on covering as evidenced by certain dialogue by characters in the first issue.

The artwork for this comic is black and white, and it is superbly drawn and inked. The artist makes excellent use of negative space and shadows, giving off a brilliant noir feel to the comic.

All in all, I am optimistic about this series, and eagerly wait to read issue 2 of the Harlem Shadow.

Rating:

Story: 4/5

Art: 4/5

Characters: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

Recommendation: I would say give it a try, though I recommend it to people looking for a good historical superhero comic and Man of Mystery story.

Freedom Love Forever

Story/Art: Kenfoo

Whoo boy. Where to start with this one? Don’t get me wrong, this was a good graphic novel, however, full disclosure, this is one weird book. It’s like the Holy Mountain if it were choked full  of comic and manga influences. It’s a very existential and philosophical story dealing with life, in all its forms, and the meaning behind it, and asking if its’ even worth living sometimes, through several different but connect stories.

The main story of the  graphic novel  follows Lola, a bright but bitter misanthropic college student, who’s dealing with her absent parents’ divorce, and finds no joy in life. Reluctantly, she signs up for a trip her guidance counselor suggests, which cryptically is to “The Imitation of Life.” On the trip she is joined by three men, each with their own reasons for searching out the Imitation of Life: Rozulle, a gifted, but self-absorbed and comically melancholic musician and pop star who’s lost his muse and seeks to find it at the Imitation of Life, Chronos,  a mysterious grey-masked samurai who’s travel to the Imitation of Life is a rite of passage to attain his right as a Shogun of the Nine Heavens (and is obsessed with living up to his legendary ancestors), and Okis, a normal and light-hearted young man wanting to take a break from his work and personal problems.

In-between the story of Lola and the gang are several short one-shot stories that, while hit or miss, all look at the theme of life within their stories, my personal favorites being “Winter Walker”, “Little Mechanic Daniel”, and “Midnight Monkey Blues.”

The artwork is very unique, as the creator of this comic drew each one shot (and the main story) in different and varying art styles. I was blown away, I at first thought this was a collaboration, but it was all done by the same man. I was impressed.

Overall, this is a very weird, but very interesting read. I will warn you, this comic has a lot of mature language, actions, and content, so this book isn’t intended for younger readers, however if you’re looking for a comic that’s pretty out there and different, I would give this a looksee.

Rating:

Story: 3.5/5

Art: 4/5

Characters: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

Recommendation: I would say give it a try if you’re looking for something different, but if you don’t like weird or pseudo-nonsensical storytelling, you may not enjoy this one.

Hope everyone has a fun Halloween!