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

Indie Comic Review – Little Heroes Comics Charity Anthology #1

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

I wanted to do something a little different this week. While I’m still reviewing a comic this is something a bit more special as the publisher is also raising funds for a charity by selling these. To give a brief overview of what they do, Little Heroes was started by Aaron Rackley to distribute comic-making kits to children following his own experience of cancer.

The first anthology is entitled ‘Strength’ and was written by talented comic book creators who provided a wonderful range of stories that make up the anthology. This anthology was bought to us by:

  • Totally Beast – Creator (and cover art for the anthology) – Ross Burt
  • The Bike Force – Writer – Tony Esmond, Artist – Susie Gander, Letterer – Dan Butcher
  • Ell and the Vile Alien – Creator – Kev Brett
  • Rule of Three – Writer – Vincentius Talbot, Artist – Stefan Nymzo
  • Strong / Invincible – Creator – T. Leal
  • New Fish in Town – Creator – Tom Curry
  • Strength – Creator – Simon Russell
  • The Flying Halfpennies – Creator – Nick Prolix
  • The Hero Within – Creators – Mo Ali and Andy Bloor

While the comics are primarily aimed at kids they are a lot of fun. They cover a range of genres, from action adventure to super heroes, sports to animals. The theme of strength is picked up through many different lenses, and there are homages to the superhero genre, with the creators showing a clear passion for the form of media their stories are presented in. I really enjoyed the accessibility offered by the stories where there is a portrayal of strength for everyone. Strength is far from limited to being a purely physical or triumphant act as well. Strength is shown to be facing your fears, overcoming huge obstacles or when need be punching an invading alien in the face (physical strength is still an important type of strength!).

Naturally there is a different art style for each of the individual comics and each of the artists is unique. Each of these matches the tone of the comic from over-exaggerated loony toons to accentuate the action and comedy, to simple black and white line drawings to add an edge of realism. What is more impressive is the number of small teams and solo efforts for each of the mini comics. There aren’t full teams working on these but usually one or two or at most three people taking on the whole task.

Due to the huge number of artists I’ll have to forego my usual ‘can the artist draw hands’ question otherwise I’ll be writing this all night! Needless to say though, across the board they definitely can.

Final Verdict

As I said, this is something special and can offer kids going through an incredibly hard time a creative outlet that anyone would crave. I would really recommend checking Little Heroes out. You can buy:

  • Physical issues on their website at:
  • Or in person at the True Believer’s Comic Festival in Cheltenham this weekend! (3rd – 4th February)
  • Digital issues on the Comichaus app at: Google Play or iPhone App Store

Score: 14 out of 10, would read again and again.

Comic Book Review – Black Science #34 (Image Comics)

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

As it’s been a while since I bloviated about one of my favourite books, I figured I would use the excuse of the end of an arc to revisit Black Science with issue #34, the finale of ‘Extinction is the Rule’. Black Science is written by Rick Remender, with art by Matteo Scalera and colours by Moreno Dinisio, published by Image Comics.

Cover art by Scalera & Dinisio

The worlds are in chaos. Heroes, villains and monsters from every corner of the Eververse, every layer of the Onion, have converged on Grant McKay’s home reality. The pillar, the transdimensional technology that every version of him creates in every reality has torn everything apart, leading through a crusading hive mind intent on conquering everything, an evil witch who feeds off deals and has stolen Grant’s mind, and a version of his old team members Kadir and Chandra who burn each world they screw up before jumping to the next, partially fueled by Kadir’s obsession with Grant’s wife Sara. Every version of her. And now Grant needs to fix everything.

Short review: Black Science – Still great. Remender juggles a big cast of characters at this point, with everything from the past 34 issues coming to bear and war over reality. Yet while that all happens, he manages to find time to meditate on giving up (and when not to), fatherhood and blame, and the ultimate meaning behind everything. It remains a desperate, chaotic and hopeful book, despite being crushingly bleak.


Art by Scalera & Dinisio

Scalera as an artist an absolute beast. As Black Science continues to ramp up, the action gets more frenetic and he has more and more to incorporate into his unique style, and he never seems to miss a beat. This issue is packed full of magics, sci-fi weaponry and actual superheroics, along with huge battles, giant monsters and even more dimension hopping, and it all looks superb. Even the quieter moments that close out the issue and arc are handled with a deft heaviness and clarity. Dinisio’s colours make everything clear and distinct, with no two explosions or energy blasts looking the same, adding a richness to a world gone mad.

As ever, Black Science is still top of my reading pile whenever it comes out. While I’m sad that the end of this arc means that the book will go away for a few months, I can’t wait to see what happens next. If you still haven’t tried Black Science and this rambling ode to the sci-fi craziness sounds good, pick up the first trade paperback ‘How to Fall Forever’ here, which collects the first 6 issues. For this issue, make sure to pick it up at your local comic shop!

Score: 9.5 Toolboxes out of 10

Comic Review – The Mighty Thor #703 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

Normally I would try to avoid reviewing a comic well into the swing of a story arc, but one of my regulars today really stood out as both an issue and an arc I want to say my piece on. The Mighty Thor has been an outstanding series of comics, once Jane Foster taking over the mantle of Thor after the Odinson became unworthy Marvel have done an incredible job in portraying a different kind of Thor throughout compelling narratives and great character development. The reason I’m highlighting this issue in this arc is it appears Jane Foster’s run as the Goddess of Thunder is coming to an end (seeing as the arc title is ‘The Death of the Mighty Thor’ this shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler). This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Jason Aaron
  • Artist – Russell Dauterman
  • Colourist – Matthew Wilson
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Sabino

There has been a built up to one hell of a confrontation in this comic – Thor vs the Mangog, for those not familiar with the Mangog it’s a monster that comes back time and time again to murder and destroy as many Asgardians as it possibly can. Jane Foster however, is still fighting her own battle against cancer, which isn’t going so well. This issue really feels like this will be it, soon Jane will need to choose whether or not to pick up the hammer one last time and likely not survive or to hang it up and step down as Thor. Personally, I’ll be very disappointed to see her go, assuming she does. Jane Foster as Thor has been a favourite of mine since she took up the mantle, and I had been hoping the Odinson would get his hands on another hammer (there is more than one of them kicking about at the moment!) and for the both of them to share the role. As you may be able to tell by my prioritising this issue, it does feel like there’s an emotional weight to this and I am hoping Jason Aaron can keep up to the standard set by The Mighty Thor run and give Jane/the Goddess of Thunder the send-off she deserves (assuming again, this does happen!)

Dauterman and Wilson’s art has to juggle two tones of story – one where Jane is battling cancer and facing the decision of her life and one where the Mangog tears through Asgard. To me, they handle this well, with duller tones during the Jane Foster focused panels and vibrant bright tones in Asgard. The Mangog is very, well, orange and is a villain who could easily look a bit ridiculous if handled incorrectly, but I think the artists do a great job in portraying how terrifying it must be to stand up against. I also very much enjoyed Sabino’s lettering, and the panel breaking screams during the battle between Asgardians and the Mangog.

Final Verdict

The build up to the finale for The Mighty Thor is showing a lot of promise, Jane’s characterisation and how caught she feels between her two lives is very compelling. While I don’t want to see the Mighty Thor go, this run of comics has been successful and in both Marvel and DC characters do happen to have a habit of coming back… like the one who gets a cameo on the final page!

Score: 9 Rainbow Bridges’s out of 10

Comic Review: Avengers #675 (Marvel Comics)


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

This week I picked up Avengers #675, also numbered as issue #1 of Avengers: No Surrender, a new event that sees the current disparate Avenger-affiliated titles Uncanny Avengers, U.S. Avengers and Occupy Avengers combined into the main title into a 16-part weekly series. Avengers #675 was written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub, with art by Pepe Larraz, colours by David Curiel and lettering from VC’s Cory Petit, with Mark Brooks drawing the cover.

Cover art by Mark Brooks

Someone has stolen the Earth (and the Moon apparently). In an instant it disappears, leaving Captain Marvel and Alpha Flight adrift in space, scrambling to find out what has happened. Meanwhile, the planet is wracked by earthquakes, tidal waves and all manner of other weather-related disasters, and the variously prefixed or suffixed Avengers teams (including the plain ‘Avengers’), along with every other hero, fight to simultaneously save lives and figure out what is going on. Then a bunch of them inexplicably freeze, and the remaining Avengers, considering active or reserve, are called together by a mysterious figure to save the world.

This issue is all set up, stopping in on various characters only briefly as they battle this latest calamity. But the three writers deliver a tight script and a compelling kick off to this event, and the premise is promising. With a few key characters benched early on in the event, I am looking forward to some lapsed Avengers taking centre stage. I’ll admit, when No Surrender was announced I was a little worried that it was going to be yet another cross over (so soon after the last one between Avengers and Champions), but I was happy that the various titles were consolidated into a single book (even if my wallet won’t be happy about it being weekly!).

Art by Larraz, Curiel and Petit

Larraz’s art is very well suited to the frenetic action here, and he does a great job of juggling so many heroes and so much action. Falcon’s opening pages are particularly impressive, as is the scene of the Human Torch battling a tidal wave. Rogue’s hair is weirdly very big, but I think it may have been for a while so that isn’t really on Larraz. The bold lines are fleshed out with deep colours from Curiel with a clarity that helps to distinguish the various costumed characters.

Avengers #675 (or Avengers: No Surrender #1) is off to a good start, and with the writers involved and the art so far there is a lot of promise for No Surrender. Hopefully the weekly format will allow for it to remain interesting, unlike the often delayed big events that lose steam over the course of the months they take to play out. This is well worth your time, so pick it up at your LCS now!

Score: 7.5 secret Frozen Heroes out of 10

Comic Review – Batman and The Signal #1 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“So you go to electrical…. And you find a passage behind a light panel…. And you head downstairs… to your secret base and… Wait, your secret base?” – The Signal

Happy new year! We’re into 2018 now and I’m back onto the comic reviews. First up this year is Batman and The Signal Issue #1. This caught my attention due to its inclusion of Duke Thomas, who you may have spotted around some of the various Batman tie ins. It had been a while since I checked in with him and I wanted to see what DC had in store. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Story – Scott Snyder and Tony Patrick
  • Writer – Tony Patrick
  • Artist – Cully Hamner
  • Colourist – Laura Martin
  • Letterer – Deron Bennett

As with all things Batman with Scott Snyder’s name on it I opened this up with high hopes. Duke is an interesting character as well – he’s been written as a kid being shaped into ‘something different’ rather than a standard Robin or Bat-family side kick and this comic begins to explore what that will ultimately mean for Duke. He’s named himself as well now – ‘Signal’, after the Signal knights who were the first to venture out into the day during medieval times and a key point in the early plot is how he finds his place in the Bat-family proper. Even if he is something different he still has the Bat emblem on his chest.

The plot focuses around Duke beginning the journey of learning who he will end up being. This includes a new suit, an introduction to the rest of the family and his very own secret lair (as a side note, surely in both Marvel and DC there must be some secret, super highly capable super hero architects, engineers, builders, electricians and other contractors who build these damn things for them… and must have copies of all of the designs, know the locations etc…). Duke’s journey to self-discovery is a little on the nose, as he has developed meta human powers and is trying to learn where exactly they came from.

As for the art, Hamner’s work presents us with a detailed world, with over exaggerated positions and expressions during dramatic moments and combat. Martin’s colours add to the aesthetic, with the yellow of Duke’s costume jumping out of the page with how vibrant it is. Duke appears to have picked one of the least stealthy colours for his suit, but we’ll have to see how he makes it work in the issues to come. Bennett has done a solid job with the lettering. The issue is a little dialogue heavy at times (not a bad thing, there’s a lot of good stuff in there!) and Bennett works well with the space available to still allow Hamner and Martin’s work to do its thing.

Still, as far as I’m concerned the real test is how well the team drew hands? We have a very hand prominent issue, if hands are your thing, this is a good comic to see them in. For the most part they’re used to communicate body language in conversation and during individual scenes. I like what the team have done in this issue and they definitely pass this made up, arbitrary test. 9/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

An interesting start. The team work well with a character who I could see going either way right now – someone special to find their footing as part of the Bat family or someone a little forgettable. This isn’t the fault of the team behind this comic, they did a very good job with it, but I simply did forget about Duke before I saw this issue! I think this could bring him into his own though.

Score: 8 Secretly Built Lair’s out of 10