Comic Book Review – Justice League: No Justice #1 (DC Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I picked up the first part of DC’s Justice League: No Justice mini series, the next big thing following on from Metal for the DC Universe. I dropped off Justice League a little bit after Rebirth because something about it just wasn’t clicking for me, but with writers Scott Snyder, Joshua Williamson and James Tynion IV on board for this series, and art from Francis Manapul, I was certainly interested in checking this out! Colours on this issue were provided by Hi-Fi, with lettering by AndWorld Design, and cover art by Manapul.

Cover by Manapul

Following on from the Metal event, the Source Wall surrounding the universe has been destroyed. While the Green Lanterns have gone to investigate, one of the biggest villains in the DCU has wasted little time in attacking Earth – Brainiac. And he has come to warn of a far greater threat on the way, the Omega Titans, cosmic gods and world eaters that have been awoken or set in motion by the shattering of the Source Wall. And Brainiac has come to rally the heroes and villains of Earth to save his home planet of Colu and stop the Omega Titans.

No Justice kicks off pretty quickly, and while the first issue of many events like this are often full of set up and are a little bit of a slow burn, Snyder, Williamson and Tynion IV manage to set the scene while still moving the plot forward. The cast of characters is such that no one really gets much chance to shine, maybe Damian Wayne and the Martian Manhunter get a decent amount of time, and a few of the characters do feel a little out of place here, but its a nice spread overall and the set up of the plot should force some interesting team dynamics. The story itself with the Omega Titans has a lot of potential too. Think Galactus but if there was 4 of him.

Art by Manapul, Hi-Fi and AndWorld Design

Manapul’s art is very strong superhero fare in this issue. His experience in superhero comics is on full display here, juggling an array of varied characters easily with a real sense of scale to the world shaking events and some great splash panels. Hi-Fi’s colours are very vibrant, with the colourful costumes and a couple of green skinned characters so distinct it almost pops off the page.

The story is an interesting start, possibly a little impenetrable to new readers, but those familiar with the DCU, especially recent events, will get a lot out of this. The art from Manapul is very nice, and the potential for some great action sequences moving forward is very high. Check out Justice League: No Justice #1 at your local comic shop or online now!

Score: 8 Nodes out of 10

Indie Comic Review – Cognition #3

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Bit melodramatic… I bet he destroys the cauldron.” Sigma (Demonic Mouse)

Time for another Indie review this week. This time I’m taking a look at Cognition Issue #3, which is currently on Kickstarter. I’ve previously had a look at the Cognition series and was curious to see how it was coming along. Although this is very much an indie comic lead by creator Ken Reynolds it has a very distinct story, art style and left an impression that made me want to come back to it. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Script and Letters – Ken Reynolds
  • Artist – Sam Bentley
  • Editor – David Hailwood

Set in Victorian England, Cognition combines steam punk with the occult and mystery to deliver a cast of steam powered robots, demonic mice, investigators and Shuck, the terrifying monster dog who recently joined their party. As with previous issues the interactions between the characters, the snark of Sigma the demonic mouse bouncing off the Cal the robot is a particular enjoyment of mine. The on-going investigation brings the team to the Welsh Countryside where they encounter Gwinddonod, a mysterious old crone whose tales of legend provide further insight into the investigation. Reynolds’s strengths are certainly at play here as he delivers a narrative which hooks the reader in, with vivid language which Bentley turns into fantastic imagery.

Bentley provides a unique and distinct art style which I cannot help but associate with the series. The black and white presentation adds to the atmosphere and sense of dread while also reinforcing the feeling that this is a tale from a bygone era. The two tone style could easily lead to a rather bland read, but Bentley manages to instead embrace it and provides a level of detail in the panels, particularly with the characters which evokes a sense of realness I wouldn’t have expected from the premise of the comic. One issue I did find is when I first read this comic as a digital PDF on my phone. I have a fairly decent size phone but I did fine the art was less clear when viewed one that sort of device and it made the story harder to get into. My second read on a computer screen was a totally different experience though, which lead to the praise I’ve given above. When you read this I strongly recommend either a hard copy or if a digital done on a screen which does justice to the comic.

It’s also worth noting that Reynolds does an excellent job with the lettering, providing distinct styles for each character, which adds personality to how I imagined their voices in my head. I’ve seen Reynolds’s work on lettering in other comics, though I feel he’s at his best in Cognition.

Final Verdict

Kickstarter is currently open for this series (link here), and if it sounds like your kind of thing then get on there and back it. In my opinion this series started strongly and is continuing to improve as it goes. Check it out on Kickstarter and be sure to pick up the previous issues too.

You can also follow @CognitionComic on twitter to keep updated

 

Have an indie comic you’d like reviewed? Get in touch with Kit at lostlighthouseindie@gmail.com!

Comic Book Review – Hunt for Wolverine #1 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I picked up Hunt for Wolverine #1 from Marvel Comics, written by Charles Soule with art on the first story ‘Secrets and Lives’ from David Marquez and Rachelle Rosenberg, and on ‘Hunter’s Pryde’ from Paulo Siquiera, Walden Wong and Ruth Redmond. Lettering was provided by VC’s Joe Sabino, with cover art from Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten and Laura Martin.

Cover art by Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten and Laura Martin

Wolverine has been dead for a couple of years. Spoilers I guess. We reviewed the final issue of Death of Wolverine here. back in 2014 While the revolving door of death in comic books made his eventual return a certainty, it isn’t like the Marvel universe has been devoid of a Wolverine in the meantime. It’s had two in fact – Old Man Logan, deposited into the regular universe following Secret Wars for reasons I don’t remember, and X-23 who took on Logan’s mantle while he was dead. For whatever reason now though, he is in the process of returning. Logan has been popping up in several other teasers to tie in to the Infinity Quest upcoming event, but Hunt for Wolverine kicks off his return proper.

The first story is action heavy and involves the Reavers turning up to try and steal Wolverine’s body, encased in the solid adamantium shell that led to his death when the molten alloy was poured over him. The X-Men turn up to foil this attempt, that turns out to be largely pointless anyway. They took the body out after his death, essentially leaving a metal shrine to Logan. Cue a big fight, followed by more confusion as to where the body actually is. Part 2 of this issue leads on from the realisation on the part of the X-Men that the body isn’t where they think it is either. What follows is Kitty Pryde recruiting several disparate groups to join the search for Wolverine, including Tony Stark and some past and present Avengers, Daredevil, and one of the other groups of X-Men.

There is a consistency with Soule that leads on from Death… to Hunt… that shows clearly through the two stories. However, as this issue focuses more on the X-Men than Wolverine himself, Soule is given the opportunity to stretch out here and does it well. A few of the characters have little to do or say, but voices like Kitty Pryde come through as strongly as that character should. The first story, ‘Secrets and Lives’, is the meat of the issue here. The action is a lot of fun, the dialogue not too distracting or overblown. While there is interesting material in the second story, ‘Hunter’s Pryde’, that part of the issue unfortunately plays out like an advert for the 4 separate series that will continue the story of Wolverine’s return and as such is less strong.The characterisations there as still great, and overall this is a well written issue.

Art by David Marquez, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Sabino

The main draw for me to check out Hunt for Wolverine was David Marquez’s art. Civil War II, while a bit of an unnecessary mess from a story perspective, was a gorgeous book. As was the recent Defenders series. Here Marquez has the opportunity to flex his artistic muscles with some great fights that seem grander than what was on show in The Defenders without being weighed down by the sheer number of characters in Civil War II. He also manages to draw everyone as distinctly beautiful, even Reed Richards with his weird neck. I was a little disappointed when I realised Marquez wasn’t drawing the whole book, but Siquiera’s art in the second shorter story is still good, despite no action taking place, with the strengths there on the character work and some very nice backgrounds.

Hunt for Wolverine is worth picking up if you are a big Logan fan and want to know where he has been and what is coming next. The art is great, and the characterisations and dialogue from Soule are good too. At times it reads a lot like an advert for what is coming next, which is pretty typical for comics, but the fact that what is next is 4 separate series, it seems a little far and unfriendly to the wallet. Even so, I think this is a good issue and worth your time.

Score: 6.5 Adamantium shells out of 10

Indie Comic Review – Lizard Men #2 (Comichaus)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Shit. No offence, guys, but this isn’t my scene” The British Prime Minister in the Year 2020

The leader of the country is a celebrity with little to no idea what he’s doing as he’s totally out of his depth while the real establishment (lizard people) are trying to get him to ‘bend the knee’ and serve them as all other world leaders do. No, this isn’t a crazy internet conspiracy you’ll dig up about the ‘deep state’ on various message boards, it’s the plot of the aptly named comic ‘Lizard Men’. This comic came up through the Comichaus app and it caught my attention this week. This is bought to us by:

  • Writer and Cover Art – Steven Horray
  • Artist – Catia Fantini
  • Colourist – Chiara Bonacini
  • Letterer – Ken Reynolds
  • Editor – Mira Manga

The story kicks off at the Brit Awards in 2019 where Dylan, a pop star decides to get political. Fast forward to 2020 and somehow he’s won the election and is in charge of Britain, however his past drug habits and creepy lizard overlords aren’t giving him an easy ride on it. I picked this series up on Issue 2, which managed to provide enough exposition in the core concept to understand the state of play. The power behind the throne as such wielded by the lizard men is shown to be great and the main cast each provide intriguing back stories you want to learn more about. There’s more at play here than the surface story as well. The concept of a pop star miraculously becoming Prime Minister is one that would have sounded crazy ten years ago, but not so much now. There is a definite element of satire here at the expense of a certain president, perhaps trying to explain what on earth is ‘really going on’ (though this main character is a hell of a lot more likeable!)

As for the art – there’s a very professional feel to issue, backed up with a slightly ‘trippy’ aesthetic to match the surrealist nature of the story. The imagery often comes across as a distorted real world, matching the tone of the comic.  The characters are expressive and the conversations portrayed well, with body language communicating a lot through the character stances.

As for the lettering, Reynolds has a little fun early on in the dialogue between Dylan and the other popstars with emphasis on words like ‘totes’ in their conversation. Throughout the issue he provides a high standard of letting which weaves the reader’s eye through the pages.

Final Verdict

This comic was more than I expected. The art in itself is enough to keep reading on, which is portraying a fascinating story which you have to wonder where it will end up. There are a lot more questions than at this point and its worth reading on to find out.

You can back the Lizard Men Kickstarter here!

 

Have an indie comic you’d like reviewed? Get in touch with Kit at lostlighthouseindie@gmail.com!

Comic Review – Avengers: Shards of Infinity #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“That is truly a worthy dream to strive for Avengers. And I’m a dreamer too.” – Captain America at his boy-scout best

If you somehow hadn’t noticed, Avengers Infinity War is fast approaching and I for one, am very excited to see it. Marvel naturally are getting their tie ins and spin offs set up, including one shot issues like this – Avengers: Shards of Infinity. These comics are in circulation to build up hype and increase engagement before the film. There are a lot of Marvel films out there now, and for first timers I can see how it may be a little intimidating to get involved. These comics help bridge that gap which is why I’m thought I would give it a look at get the word out on it. This comic is brought to us by:

  • Writer – Ralph Macchio
  • Artist – Andrea Di Vito
  • Colour Artist – Laura Villari
  • Letterer – VC’s Travis Lanham

Some of the exposition, or character narrations are a little on the nose if you know your way around the Avengers at all (if you’ve seen Captain America Civil War you know it all!) but there is a certain charm to the simplicity of this story. The bad guys with their overly complex evil plan and the cheesy one liners are a lot of fun.

The characters are a little bit one dimensional. They are very much outlines of themselves. This isn’t a criticism though, this comic is intended for people who don’t know their way around Marvel and need to get to grips with who is who.

Di Vito and Villari’s art very much reflects the simple story being told. The characters are sporting their classic costumes, their colours are vibrant and draw the eye and the action is clear and easy to follow with the lettering is clear and unobtrusive, not distracting from the action scenes.

Final Verdict

This made me feel like a kid watching a Saturday morning cartoon again. There are villains. They want to take over the world. The Avengers want to stop them using their own unique skill set. The plot is wrapped up in one issue you can get through very easily.

For a longer term fan, there isn’t a huge amount here. But if you know someone you want to get into the world of Marvel comics, it’s the perfect gift!

Score: 8 Moon Bases out of 10

Comic Review – Mera: Queen of Atlantis #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

Cover art by Nicola Scott

“To my surprise I have been declared Queen in Exile” Mera

And I’m back again to pick up a new comic review. I thought it time to return to the mainstream comics having picked up an indie last time (though there will be more of these to follow). This time Mera: Queen of Atlantis caught my eye. It’s a first issue and I’m looking to expand the DC comics I read. Mera is a character I am familiar with through other media – Justice League and Aquaman mainly and she is someone I felt I could get to know better. She’s framed as a warrior queen in a similar way to a fair few other comic book heroes, and I want to see what she can do with the spotlight on her and not in a supporting role. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Dan Abnett
  • Pencils – Lan Medina
  • Inks – Richard Friend
  • Colours – Veronica Gandini
  • Letters – Simon Bowland

The plot picks up with Mera stranded on the surface, the throne lost and much of her power drained in a coup in Atlantis. Aquaman may be dead and not only does she have to recover, take back the throne and keep the surface world countries out of Atlantis through political maneuvering, she also has to deal with assassins sent by the usurper Rath. It’s a lonely task as well, as with many civil disputes it’s not an issue outsiders such as the Justice League can simply weigh in on. There’s a lot of exposition getting into this comic. In rapid succession it brings the reader up to speed with the state of play in Atlantis, Mera’s situation and how it relates to the world at large. Additionally the issue sets up the likely role of who I presume will be her ally, Ocean Master.

As for the art, Medina, Friend and Gandini have worked together to create a vibrant world, rich in colour. There are numerous different settings which they jump between, using full colour spreads during the intense action, a faded palette during flashbacks and good use of white space to slow things down during conversations and exposition reveals.

Art by Medina, Friend, Gandini and Bowland

The real test, with so many different settings and scenes is how well the hands are drawn though? Pretty solidly overall. They look great during action scenes and add a great dynamic element to Mera when she’s swimming or in water. When they are visible during character conversations they look good, however I would have liked to have seen more of them due to the emphasis they can give on body language, emotion and communication.

Final Verdict

This is a solid first issue. There is a lot to get through though and it took me a couple of reads to take everything in. I think if you’re more familiar with Atlantean DC Lore you would pick this up easily but as someone who knows their way around it less it was a bit of a tough read in places.

Score: 8 Aquakinetics out of 10

Comic Book Review – The Wicked + The Divine: 1923 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

It has been nearly 4 years since The Wicked + The Divine started (I reviewed it way back then too!), and in that time the incredibly inventive series from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie has seen 33 issues and a handful of one shots. This week saw the release of another of these additional stories, with The Wicked + The Divine: 1923. Gillen continues writing duties, with art by Aud Koch and lettering from Clayton Cowles.

Cover art by Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson

With the conclusion of Imperial Phase Part II, the series takes the opportunity to again visit a previous pantheon of doomed gods, this time in 1923. Steeped in post-war modernism, this crop of gods resemble try-hard artists more than the aggressively hip stars of the main series. As the gods reach their two year expiry date, they congregate on an island for a party. But the party soon turns into a murder mystery, and while some of the players in the mystery may be more obvious if you are up to date with the series, there is a complex interplay between the suspects, informed by both the era and the natures of the gods in question.

The Wicked + The Divine has always been wildly experimental in its storytelling, both in the prose and in the art. This issue is no exception, and is laid out as a multi-chaptered short story punctuated by bursts of art for the key moments. Gillen’s script is complicated, almost to the point of convolution, but with a lack of hand-holding that continues WicDev’s heady and complete plotting. The murder mystery aspect works well, and the extended prose allows the characters to be fleshed out clearly to a degree that would usually not be achieved in a one shot. And the synergy of the closing pages with the main series is frankly deeply satisfying.

Art by Aud Koch

While the bulk of the issue is prose, the art form Koch is truly stunning. Almost black and white, except for all the blood, is is expressionism in its weirdness, with a bleak loneliness that punctuates the quiet moments and heightens the small amounts of action and the larger group shots and vistas.

These one shots for The Wicked + The Divine continue to impress, and 1923 may be the strongest yet. With a strong cast of characters, links to the main series and gorgeous art (not that McKelvie’s work on the main series isn’t equally gorgeous. This is different-gorgeous), it is well worth your time and as a short story, stands alone fairly well too. Check this out at your LCS now!

Score: 8.5 Zeitgeists out of 10