Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Shortbox 8/9/07

The Astounding Wolf-Man #2
writer: Robert Kirkman
artist: Jason Howard
Image Comics, released 7-5-07
The first issue was one of the features of this year's Free Comic Book Day, so hopefully you already have had a taste of this book. I felt that one went a bit by the numbers, essentially not giving us anything groundbreaking for a werewolf tale. But some aspects of the story, such as Gary's wife finding out that he's been bitten, were addressed right off the bat. This allows Kirkman to avoid dragging out cliche storylines. So I added the second installment to reward a promising new title.
In issue two, the Wolf-Man makes his first contact with other superheroes after finishing up his training with vampire Zechariah. There are some good action sequences from Howard, who implores a wonderful style in this comic book. You know it's a comic book when you open the pages and with Kirkman's sensibilities, that's a perfect combo. That said, this was a rather ho-hum issue overall until the final few pages. I won't spoil it for you here, but I'm sure issue 3 will certainly be worth buying.
7 out of 10

The Order #1
writer: Matt Fraction
artists: Barry Kitson, Mark Morales & Dean White
Marvel Entertainment, released 7-18-07
I'm a big fan of Matt Fraction. I love pretty much everything I've read by him. However, after reading his new book set in the aftermath of Civil War, I realize I may have been expecting a bit too much. The Order is the California team of the 50-State Initiative, and it will have a constantly rotating cast of heroes, no one lasting more than a year. Other than Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, these are completely new characters.
First off, the tone of this book is on the serious side, more so than I was expecting from the hilarious Fraction. Also, I was fairly certain at least one member of the team we met would be gone in one way or another before the close of the first issue, given the nature of the book. Plus, there's a lot of talking in the issue, and while there is a fair amount of fighting too, they didn't seem to balance well. Adding all of these issues together, and I was pretty underwhelmed. The art was great, but not enough to overcome an un-engaging story.
Is there still hope for the book? Sure there is. I probably knew too much about issue one from podcasts and Newsarama articles. But I know a lot about many new books these days and am often pleased with a new book. I like Fraction, so this one will still get a shot.
5 out of 10

Last Blood #2
writer: Bobby Crosby
artist: Owen Gieni
Blatant Comics, released July 2007
Last Blood is another book that put out its first issue on Free Comic Book Day 2007. That issue was a complete surprise because I had never heard of the creators or the publisher beforehand. It's the best example as to why FCBD is a great idea; I would have completely ignored the solicitation page it was on had I not read that first issue.
The story began in a very familiar fashion. A small town decimated by zombies with only a small number holed up together with supplies and shotguns. I went through the motions with it until I reached the halfway point, at which time a couple of vampires take out the zombies, thus protecting the humans. It turns out that the zombies have almost completely taken over the world. The vampires need the blood of the few humans who are left in order to survive, otherwise they will become zombies themselves. But they don't want to kill the humans, just take a blood donation here and there to sustain themselves. I've never come into contact with a vampire/zombie premise like this before and was compelled to order the second issue.
This one is more of the same horror goodness. While it by no means contains the greatest dialogue I've ever heard, it is good enough to propel the story farther, which is all I want. Even things I feel like I should see coming, I'm not, which is the mark of a good storyteller. I hope Crosby has big plans for this book and I hope some of you out there order a copy soon, because I doubt Blatant Comics is selling a ton of books. It may go the way of the dodo.
9 out of 10

Star Wars: Legacy #14
writer: John Ostrander
artist: Jan Duursema
Dark Horse Comics, released 7-11-07
I haven't checked back in on this Star Wars title since it began last summer and I'm not sure why. It's fantastic. Issue 14 marks the start of a new storyline, a great jumping on point for all of you uninitiated. Cade Skywalker has now stopped hiding his jedi heritage, but is still lightyears away from embracing it. He's basically a rougher, angrier version of Han Solo with the skills of a Jedi knight. While he is the focus of the book, the real treats come from the expanded universe: the broken Jedi order, the bastardized legion of Sith, the Galactic Empire (somewhat separate from the Sith in this story), and the Galactic Alliance, not to mention the plethora of alien races and rogue groups already introduced (though I'm probably missing a few factions of the intricate universe that has been set up by Ostrander).
This issues brings us Cade's first solo missing as he attempts to rescue his former teacher, who has been captured on Coruscant. In the process, we get more interesting tidbits revealed about Darth Krayt (the big bad of Legacy at the moment) and members of an Empire's air fighting squad (aspects similar to the new Battlestar Galactica, particularly Starbuck). It's all fascinating to me because I never thought the Star Wars movies went deep enough into the seedy underbellies that exist throughout its universe. This book takes us there. Add it to your pull list; it's far from just another licensed property book.
8 out of 10

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