Comic Book Review – Man-eaters #1 (Image Comics)

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

This week I picked up the first issue of the new Image Comics series Man-eaters, written by Chelsea Cain with art by Kate Niemczyk, colours by Rachelle Rosenberg, and letters by Joe Caramagna.

A young girl, Maude, introduces us to her dad as he heads off to work as a police officer. He’s investigating a particularly gruesome homicide, which turns out to be perpetrated by a cat. Not an ordinarily cat though, instead suspicion falls on any number of adolescent girls in the area who, infected by a mutant strain of toxoplasmosis, can transform into cat-like monsters who violently attack and kill anyone nearby. This change is brought on during the onset of menses, which the government tightly suppress through hormone therapy in the water. But it isn’t effective in everyone, and Maude has just got her first period.

This first issue is a lot of set up, from the principle cast to the task force that has been set up to deal with the ‘cat’ problem, with the background laid down for the status quo of the world. The series appears to owe a lot of its DNA to Kelly Sue Deconnick and Val De Landro’s Bitch Planet (its no coincidence that Maude has a Bitch Planet poster on her wall), but what I found interesting is that the direction of the series moving forward is likely best indicated by the back matter rather than the bulk of the issue. While the always relevant ‘fuck the patriarchy’ angle to the story is hinted at in the plot, it is resolved much more clearly through the propaganda in the pages following the comic, where the warnings for men and boys for cat attacks or girlfriends who may be cats are clear, despite the issue indicating that anyone can be the victim of a cat attack, especially close family members. It casts Man-eater in a much clearer light, and I expect subsequent issues to focus in on that aspect a little more, drawing on the male fear and confusion of female biology and strength. In this first issue, Cain sets up the plot well and draws a compelling character in Maude, and the simplicity of the final reveal sets the forward momentum up for the series.

Art by Niemczyk, Rosenberg, and Caramagna (Image Comics)

Niemczyk’s pencils and inks use bold lines for well defined character work, that overall is reminiscent of Tank Girl or Kim and Kim. Reteaming with Cain after they worked on Mockingbird together, there is some gruesome art here that shines through, but there are choices with layout and flow that feels very modern and relevant. The colours from Rosenberg are bright and bold, though some of the darker scenes allow her to stretch out and nail those too.

Man-eaters is off to a good start, and while it’s potential is its main selling point, this first issue is the time to jump on and check it out. Pick it up at your local comic book shop or online now!

 

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

Comic Review – Mockingbird #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Join S.H.I.E.L.D they said. Great health benefits, low co-pays…” – Bobbi Morse

Well this was supposed to be another indie comic review, but I managed to leave said indie comic 100 or so miles away in Coventry. The joys of living out of two addresses…. So when I got home tonight I realised I needed something else to review. A quick look at what was new out this week and Mockingbird (written by Chelsea Cain, art by Kate Niemczyc, colour artist Rachelle Rosenberg and letterer VC’s Joe Carmagna) caught my eye. I’ve never read any comics with her in before, but I’ve seen her alter-ego Bobbi Morse in Agents of SHIELD.

This is very much a first issue, but it is not an origin story. We know Bobbi has been injected with an experimental version of Cap’s Super Soldier Serum and SHIELD aren’t confident about the side effects it might be having. The comic entirely takes place in one of SHIELD’s research labs where Bobbi is having regular blood tests. We see her come in over a number of weeks and see how she’s fairing. Which is mixed to say the least (not that she’ll admit it!). We also get to see a few guest cameos in the background, from Howard the Duck reading a leaflet on stopping smoking to Hercules looking a little worse for wear.

The art is very much in line with a lot of Marvel’s other comics, like the current run on Thor, where the colours are strong and vibrant and things generally feel light and with a slight sense of humour about them. Speaking of, there’s a fair few references tucked away in this, some to the Agents of SHIELD TV show, and some to the Marvel universe in general if you know what to look for (read the forms!). This all adds to something Marvel have totally nailed in many of their current comic series – a sense of humour and danger all wrapped up into one. We also get to see a fun array of all of the outfits Mockingbird wears on some of her missions.

MockingbirdAs the plot focuses on her test results and current state of health I won’t go into too much detail on it, except to say it’s a very well written first issue, designed to grip the reader into wanting more. I was left looking for a few answers at the end of it, but there’s a helpful cheat sheet from the authors telling you what their rough plans are with the first few issues in the series (filling in the gaps between Bobbi’s appointments!).

In terms of criticism, I suppose the downside of keeping a lot of things mysterious is the reader is left with quite a few unknowns at the end. It would be nice to have gotten to know some of the supporting cast a little better as well.

Final Verdict

This is a very different first issue, but a very enjoyable one. I wasn’t looking to add any more comics to my regular list (I am supposed to be saving for a wedding…) but dammit Marvel you’ve done it again!

Final Score – 8.75 Vanishing Ping-Pong Balls out of 10!