Welcome to GeeklyInc.’s comic book roundup for the week of April 20th! Each week we’ll be taking a look at some of the latest releases and giving you our thoughts on them. Keep reading to find out how this week’s comics stacked up:
Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion #4 (DC Comics)
Writer: Tom Taylor
Pencils: Adrian Syaf
First Impressions: From the beginning, Edge of Oblivion has been a rough series. Whether it’s due to the limited format, the difficult starting point of the story, or the random chance of the universe; the series has never really found its feet. We’re now four issues into the six-part miniseries and, while I always retain a hopeful outlook, my first impression is that I will once again be disappointed. While Ethan Van Sciver has done yet another stellar cover, the fact that he is no longer doing the inner art has me worried. Even so, last month’s issue did end on an interesting cliff-hanger with Marniel having stolen Guy’s ring and winning quite handily. Perhaps there’s hope yet?
Verdict: I am pleasantly surprised. I’m hardly salivating at the mouth in anticipation for the next issue, but equally I have no desire to hurl the book across the room. Taylor does a good job healing the rift between Killowog and Guy, only if it’s because he’s made the decision to literally muzzle guy. The twist that comes afterwards wherein Marniel is in fact a force for good and Asuras and Dismas are decidedly evil is also handled surprisingly well by the end. Taylor slips back momentarily into the heavy-handedness when he has Marnial fight our heroes yet again for no real reason. This is partially forgiven as Syaf does a stellar job with a two page spread explaining her background and the visual of Dismas about to chow down on a few hapless aliens is suitably unsettling. My largest gripe is naming Asuras and Dismas ‘The Blackest Knights’. Blackest Night was an excellent crossover and it influenced Green Lantern for months afterwards. It is seven years old now and should really be put to rest. With the story perhaps finally back on track, I am firmly, mildly, anticipating next month’s issue.
Green Lantern #51 (DC Comics)
Writer: Robert Venditti
Pencils: Rafa Sandoval
First Impressions: I’ve read Green Lantern for many years now, I’m (I would like to think) fairly familiar with most aspects of Green Lantern lore from the past 9 or 10 years, so the Grey Agents have me interested. Sandoval has done a great job whipping up a dynamic and visually interesting cover. That said, the greatest cover in the world can’t make up for a weak story. The hasty conclusion last month to Hal and Parallaxes battle does make me worry that we’ll be in for more of the same.
Verdict: It’s a month for unexpected surprises it seems. After an oddly short and poorly drawn issue 50, preceded by a couple of the dullest Green Lantern issues in a long time, it would seem that Venditti has managed to turn it around. After only a mildly clunky piece of exposition wrapping up things on Earth, Hal Jordan takes to space once more. The story then shifts back to Virgo, Trapper and Darlene; who are quite honestly the real stars of the series. The threat of the Grey Agents is set up well with Virgo and Trapper taken down with a variety of aliens in a matter of pages. Their purpose, like any good villain, remains to be seen. Venditti has managed to create an exciting and new threat for the last few issues of Green Lantern and Sandoval’s art is the best it’s been for several issues. Apart from a couple of wonky faces, he really shines here. Incorporating dynamic panel layouts and seriously cool alien designs, this is probably one of the better looking Green Lantern issues in a while. I do have some doubts due to the DC Rebirth coming up soon, but I’m really hoping that Venditti is able to take these solid beginnings to a new story and bring it all home.
Survivors Club #7 (Vertigo)
Writer: Dale Halvorsen and Lauren Beukes
Artist: Ryan Kelly
First Impressions: Last month’s issue of Survivors Club was exactly the sort of thing you want near the end of an arc (I assume it’s near the end, but it wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong). With half our main characters trapped in the Muskagee House with Mr Empty and Zira, Teo and Kiri headed to face Akheron, its seems Survivors Club has placed them all in awful situations. The kind of situations this series does best. With yet another brilliant, blood-soaked cover from Bill Sienkiewicz, I’m expecting big things.
Verdict: It’s nice to be right. Once again Halvorsen and Beukes have crafted a masterful story that kept me on my toes the whole way through. The showdown with Akheron delivers wonderfully with Halvorsen and Beukes evoking just the right level of psychological horror, character introspection and a healthy dose of gore. In the parallel story, things go very poorly in Muskagee House and artist Ryan Kelly’s demented penchant for blood, shadows, and creepiness is in full force. Mr. Empty has been strongly hinted from day one as the real threat behind Harvey, and to have him come to the fore, blood soaked scissors and all, is fantastic. When Teo accidentally gives birth to a spider woman that begins to do battle with Kiri’s ghost aunt, the whole thing ramps up to 11. Any other story it would be ridiculous, but in Survivors Club it’s just par for the course. Over the last seven issues, the story has been building and building and it’s incredibly satisfying to have such a solid payoff, even if it’s still not done. What began as a fairly stock standard horror comic has quickly turned into something else entirely that simply must be read.
The Autumnlands #10 (Image)
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art: Benjamin Dewy and Jordie Bellaire
First Impressions: The Autumnlands is a series that has consistently impressed from day one. Busiek’s highly vivid and fascinating world perfectly complements what is fast becoming a highly intriguing story. After what was essentially a set up arc for the world of The Autumnlands, I’m full of excitement and anticipation as to how he constructs a longer running story. Dewey and Bellaire have once again produced a fine, minimalist cover that promises a good old fashioned environmental mystery, no doubt the goods will be delivered.
Verdict: So, apparently this issue of The Autumnlands was late. I didn’t really notice. But, if this is the sort of quality we’ll be getting if the series is late, the team needs to keep taking their time. The story is massively intriguing for one. Up until now, the only other human we have seen other than Leroy is a woman that I’m still convinced wasn’t even real. So why then is there a woman on top of the mountain? And why does she explode? Where is the magic coming from? Will there ever be an issue of this series that doesn’t fill me with all kinds of burning questions? Probably not. But Busiek also does well when things aren’t exploding. With Dusty and Leoroy essentially the only characters now, it’s great to see a little time spent exploring their relationship and their differences and the tension over the sheep village last issue is raised again with the arrival of an injured goat man. The story is typical solid fare and I can’t wait for next month; but special mention must go to the art. This issue of The Autumnlands is hands down one of the best looking comics I have read in a long time. The line work is crisp and excellent, the colors are vibrant and there is a real painting-like quality to the whole thing that elevates the entire issue. I’m not much of an art guy, but the more I read of this comic, the more that changes. The first trade paperback is out now. If you haven’t yet, go get it.
Black Road #1 (Image)
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Garry Brown
First Impressions: Brian Wood is a name that I know, but sadly not one that I’m wholly familiar with. A writer for nearly 20 years and the author of the critically acclaimed DMZ (which I still haven’t read, for shame), Brian wood’s name holds a fair bit of weight. His new series centered around someone called Magnus the Black, and his hunt for the killer of a man under his command, seems to promise a Viking themed tale of revenge. Sounds good to me. Garry Brown has already piqued my interest with a wonderfully sketchy cover that seems to only reinforce the idea of a gritty, hard-wearing tale of revenge. I’ve not taken in a lot of Brian Wood’s work so far, but here’s hoping for a great kick-off point.
Verdict: It may be a little early to call it, but I’m just not feeling it. Brian Wood does a good job of setting the scene of a land firmly under the thumb of Christian conversion, and Garry Brown’s art is suitably gritty and harsh; this is no Superman tale of wonder and hope. Equally, the internal monologue of Magnus the Black is appropriately pessimistic and dry. It gives a good sense for the character without wasting too much time and firmly orients the story behind Magnus. The story itself is interesting enough. Magnus is hired to escort a priest up the ‘Black Road’, a road that promises to be full of nothing but death and mayhem. Good stuff. The only problem is that the death of said priest and Magnus joining forces with his adoptive daughter feels a bit rushed. The priest dies and I seriously couldn’t care less. There were the bones for a good story, but it just jumped too suddenly from one thing to another. Perhaps it was a space thing, perhaps it was time; but while the first issue of Black Road is good, it just was not long enough.
Moon Knight #1 (Marvel)
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Greg Smallwood
First Impressions: Full disclosure right now, I have never subscribed to a single Marvel item in my entire life. I just don’t have the same connection to Marvel as I do DC. Now we have Moon Knight, a new series centered around an old superhero. Jeff Lemire, like Brian Wood, has a name with a some weight. Writing not only a well-received run on Animal Man, a few issues for Futures End and Marvel’s Old Man Logan, Lemire it seems, has the goods. A story about a mystical, insane superhero does seem like it could be a hard one to get into, but I’ve got a good feeling.
Verdict: The feeling was good, then the feeling was confused. Then the feeling was confused some more. Moon Knight is not a simple, easy to follow story. At this point, I’m still not even 100% sure if the main character actually is Moon Knight himself, or just insane. Opening on an ethereal, Egyptian dreamscape, the story doesn’t begin in a particularly conventional way. What follows is a disjointed, weirdly panelled journey through Marc Spectors time at, what I assume, is an insane asylum. The story does a good job of raising some big questions early on about perception of life, memory and identity; it’s thought provoking without being too stodgy. Jeff Lemire doesn’t allow too much navel gazing, and the moment that Marc Spector dons a bedsheet and lays the beat down on his wardens is very cool. Greg Smallwood also brings out the big guns in terms of art and his use of different styles, panels and layouts really helps build this sense of insanity. On top of that, the use of a white background the entire way through the book ties the whole thing together. From a sheer coolness point of view though, the double page spread of a pyramid in the middle of New York is one of the coolest spreads I’ve seen in a while. Moon Knight is a fantastical tale of insanity, superheroes and magic, has me incredibly intrigued and I’m anxiously waiting for next month.