Comic Review – Domino: Hotshots #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“So much for the whole Boromir pledge” Domino

Cover by Silva & Woordward (Marvel Comics)

Marvel have released a new run on Domino aka Neena Thurman, the luck-based mutant super spy and assassin. It’s written by Gail Simone, whose writing is consistently outstanding throughout her work – I strongly recommend picking up Clean Room, and her runs on Batgirl and Red Sonja. I’ve read a little Domino over the years and enjoyed Gail’s solo run on the character. This issue is pulling in a wider team for Neena to interact with.

This issue is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Gail Simone
  • Artist – David Baldéon
  • Colour Artist – Jim Charalampidis
  • Letterer – VC’s Clayton Cowles
  • Cover Artist – R.B. Silva and Nolan Woordward

A meteorite crash-lands in a distant frozen desert on the Antarctic Coastline. After being picked up by a researcher and it having some kind of super-natural effect on them, leaving them with Darkseid-like powers, Domino and the Hotshots are commissioned by Black Widow to find the meteorite and make sure it doesn’t fall into a single country’s grasp. The central team, the Hotshots, are made up of:

Outlaw – a super-strong cowgirl; Black Widow – … the Black Widow; Diamondback – demolitions prodigy; White Fox – secret agent living anime; and Atlas Bear – exiled Wakandan who can apparently see the future.

As you’d expect from Gail Simone, the character interactions between the team are key to the plot and each of their personalities shine through. The tensions become clear as well, with many loyalties and individual agendas of the hotshots called into question during the issue. This looks to be an ongoing theme providing a central tension to this series. The issue could have done with more time exploring these, however it appears that’s what the series will be for.

Art by Baldéon, Charalampidis & Cowles (Marvel Comics)

Baldéon’s work is very strong here, with the image where the meteorite takes effect on the researcher in particular really jumping out of the page. Charalampidis’ colour brings it all to life, providing an integrated tone, from the alien to the emotional really emphasising and complimenting the story, combining well to portray a world that feels dreamlike.

Cowles’ lettering is simple but effective, Cowles happened to be the letterer for my previous comic review and is proving to be flexible and skilled in his work with the dialogue-heavy scenes not detracting from what is happening on the page.

Final Verdict

This story left me wanting more. Domino is not a character I grew up with or am that familiar with through film and TV, however I certainly want to get to know her more during this run. Simone has a talent for really picking out what really makes a character tick and I look forward to seeing her take on the cast, including the last minute addition on the final page, in future issues. The team is promising compelling conflict and insight into characters, new and familiar to me as well.

Comic Review – Wonder Woman/Conan #2 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Man of iron and woman of granite. The two greatest warriors of any age” Narrator

Another cross over of an 80s/90s classic and a super hero is making the rounds at the moment in the form of Wonder Woman/Conan. Other than picking up Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I’ve let most of these pass me by, this one however happens to be written by Gail Simone. I got to know Simone’s work in her outstanding run on Batgirl in the New 52 and Clean Room, although she has certainly done her time with Wonder Woman before and although from what I can see her work on Conan is limited she knows her way around a barbarian thanks to Red Sonja. Naturally I had to check this out. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Gail Simone
  • Pencils – Aaron Lopresti
  • Inks – Matt Ryan
  • Colours – Wendy Broome
  • Letters – Saida Temofonie

One thing I like with the versions of the characters offered by Simone is instead of the usual version of events where the current era hero is miraculously plucked from time and transported into the past we appear to have a unique take on the warrior princess in the world of Conan the Barbarian. The two protagonists are still working each other out at this stage in the comic, with mystery facing Wonder Woman’s past and danger around every corner. The two have an uneasy relationship, thrown into a gladiatorial arena by the manipulations of gods to battle for the pleasure of bloodthirsty spectators. This is one of the few points I was a little disappointed by in the issue. With the likes of Batman vs Superman unfortunately haunting our memories still two heroes battling it out is feeling a little old. Don’t let that put you off though. Both Conan and Wonder Woman are fully rounded characters in this incarnation with an intriguing backstory and backstories well adapted to this version of events.

Lopresti, Ryan and Broome did an excellent job on the artwork. I really like the creative borders put around the panels showing backstory and the power exuded by both warriors. A big thing for me when reading Wonder Woman is for her to feel powerful by the way she presents herself and the art team communicate that very effectively in this issue. They also have to deal with a huge cast of characters, with appearances from many side characters who have a role to play or a background to fill. Each of them is packed full of detail and character, at the standard you’d usually expect your lead characters to be at. I also really liked Temofonie’s work on the lettering, packing in a lot of dialogue to busy pages and a creative portrayal of the narrator’s lettering.

However, how well do Lopresti, Ryan and Broome team up to draw hands? They look consistently great throughout the issue. They are used well to differentiate the carefree body language and attitude of the heroes as kids in the flashback, the tension in the combat or the attitudes in conversation. 9/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I very much enjoyed the world portrayed in this comic and the versions of the characters and their development within it. My main criticism would be some of the themes, the two heroes forced into combat right away and so on are feeling a little overly familiar now.

Score: 8.5 Broken Lutes out of 10

Comic Review – Secret Six #1

1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week saw the Not-Really-That-New 52 debut of Secret Six, the much beloved series most recently written by Gail Simone before the relaunch of the DCU back in 2011. Until now the Secret Six has been absent as a series, the closest book to it being the Suicide Squad which has had mixed opinions for both runs over the last 3 years. Now DC comics have brought it back, with Gail Simone again taking over writing duties, pencils from Ken Lashley, who also shared inking with Drew Geraci, colours from Jason Wright and letters from Carlos M. Mangual. Full disclosure: I have never read an issue of Secret Six before. I am a terrible nerd. However, that does mean I can review this first issue on it’s own merits rather than having nostalgia influence what I think.

The issue opens with a group of agents, apparently the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, arriving at a bar to arrest Thomas Blake, aka Catman. The agents, who definitely don’t work for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, get somewhat destroyed before their backup arrives and stuns Blake. He wakes up in a large, dark room with a variety of other weirdos named Porcelain, Big Shot, the new(ish) female Ventriloquist, Strix and Black Alice, and two locked boxes. Any attempt at escape, even discussing it, results in reprimand from their invisible captors, who flash a message on the wall asking the question ‘What is the secret?’. The group are given a count down to provide an answer, or one subject from the ‘experiment’ will be terminated – and they have to choose who.

Gail Simone starts a compelling story here, swiftly introducing the cast of characters and giving a brief look at most of their powers or skills without wasting any time with it. The situation the they find themselves is extreme and confusing (for them), but the mystery is well crafted and the balance of action and dialogue is spot on. The art is scratchy and rough, lending itself well to the differences between the main characters. The backgrounds in the latter half of the issue, taking place inside the coffin-like box, are somewhat lacking but that can easily be attributed to the fact that there are no backgrounds in the featureless room. The strained desperation on the faces, particularly Catman’s as he realises he is trapped, is particularly strong in helping to get across the bleak situation everyone finds themselves in.

Secret Six was a very enjoyable read, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes next. I’ve always liked Simone’s writing style, and this was the last push I really needed to motivate me into actually tracking down the pre-reboot series that she worked on (though from what I hear that may be quite difficult). Pick this up at your LCS or digital comics platform thing.

8 Masks out of 10