Much like the juggernaut that is “The Walking Dead,” this new series from Image also deals with the dead returning to walk the Earth. That’s where the similarities stop as “Revival” takes a dramatically different approach to that particular subject. The dead here don’t return as shambling husks, but just as they were before they died and with the ability to recover from (almost) any injury. This “outbreak” is also confined to one small midwest town which is now under quarantine and an investigation from the C.D.C. There also appears to be a supernatural aspect to this event as well as the implications of an underlying cause to it all. So even though the hard work of making this “zombie” series distinct is achieved the even harder work of making it as interesting is yet to be done.
Over the years, the team of writer John Ostrander and artist Jan Duursema has been responsible for some of the best “Star Wars” stories to come out of Dark Horse. Initially they introduced us to amnesiac Jedi Quinlan Vos and his struggle to stay on the light side of the Force while going undercover in Count Dooku’s separatist movement. Then they started co-plotting stories together and we got the story of Luke’s troubled grandson Cade Skywalker and his struggles to find himself in a galaxy fractured by a new Sith empire in “Legacy.” Now they’re back again and taking us all the way to the beginning of the Jedi order with this title. It’s not as impressive as their previous efforts, but it does have the potential to grow into something more interesting.
(We’re experiencing some technical issues with the podcast again and it’ll hopefully be up either later tonight or in the next day or two. So before we get to my thoughts on Ennis/Robertson/Braun/et. al.’s “The Boys” here are some superhero titles that while not as thought-provoking, won’t make your skin crawl.)
Waid’s “Daredevil” continues the high level of quality established by the first volume and even if the shock of his new spin on Matt Murdock has worn off, there’s still plenty of quality superhero action to be found here. Not only does the title character have to lead schoolkids through a snowstorm, head underground to take on a grave-robbing Mole Man, but he also gets to team up with Spider-Man and match wits with the Black Cat. There’s a lot of entertainment crammed into the six issues collected here and the overall quality of the art from Paolo Rivera, Emma Rios, Kano and Khoi Pham, overcomes any stylistic inconsistency. None of this will blow your mind, but Daredevil hasn’t been this much fun to read about in years.
As for Brubaker’s “Captain America,” it picks up on a plot thread from his “Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier” miniseries from a little while ago as the Super-Soldier serum that gives him his powers is mysteriously giving out on him. Normally this is where I’d gripe about none of the characters being allowed to be heroic and consistently at the mercy of the bad guys. While that’s true for a lot of this volume, it ends on a welcome bit of cleverness in which we find out that Sharon Carter had all of the necessary bases covered here. It would’ve been nice to see more moments like these in the latter half of Brubaker’s run, but at least we get some great art from Alan Davis to make this volume a cut above the character’s recent solo exploits.
This was supposed to be two Marvel reviews, briefly. One of them ran long because... that’s just how it happened. Normally I’d try to find some kind of thematic link between them, but it’s Christmas Eve and I’ve got other plans. Happy Holidays to all, and lets kick things off with a non-seasonal story of beatdowns.
First of all, it’s nice to see publisher Eric Stephenson take immediate action after Image revealed its “no second prints” policy earlier this week. Not only did he nip an emerging controversy in the bud, the new strategy he unveiled should go a long way towards fixing that issue he talked about with titles and their momentum after the first collection is released. Offering retailers a deep discount and incentives to convince “tradewaiters” to jump onboard the monthly comics should go a long way towards encouraging growth with the monthly comics. Not with me, though, because I’m a dick like that.
Also, Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s “Jupiter’s Children” series is now called “Jupiter’s Legacy” after a cease-and-desist order was issued by the band Jupiter’s Child. Too bad for them... assuming the comic is ever going to come out. It was originally solicited for April of this year and is currently set for a bi-monthly serialization starting in April 2013. Of course, when asked about the title a few months back, Quitely said that he had only drawn a handful of pages for it. So even if we do see it in next month’s solicitations, that’s still no guarantee it’ll make it to the stands.
Carl Horn’s notes from the previous volume gave me the indication that this one was going to be something special. After being put solidly on the backburner for the last several volumes, it looked as if we were finally going to get some momentum on the ongoing subplot of the origin of the spirit behind Karatsu’s powers. The Shirosagi Corpse Cleaning Service was even set to show up again. I was excited beyond the fact that we were going to get another volume of this perpetually low-selling-yet-excellent title! Unfortunately, these elements turn out to be the most disappointing part of the volume. We get three solidly entertaining stories that continue to mine the same vein of horror, comedy and Japanese culture that is the title’s stock-in-trade, but the promised revelations are delivered in such a perfunctory manner that it makes you wonder why writer Eiji Otsuka bothered in the first place.
Word on the street is that we now know what will be happening with the “Star Wars” comics license. Though Dark Horse will continue to publish the titles it already has in the pipeline, they won’t be doing anything new that has to be approved by Lucasfilm/Disney. Any new projects will be done by Marvel and will likely be out to coincide with the new movie in 2015. The article in question also speculates on whether Marvel will incorporate comics into their current publishing operations or form a separate branch to specifically deal with the license. I’m hoping for the latter because I can easily see things either getting lost in the shuffle after the initial burst of publicity or Marvel oversaturating the market with multiple titles (see also: Dynamite’s “Green Hornet” for a good cautionary example) or even both. Personally, I don’t think it’s likely because current Marvel president Ike Perlmutter has demonstrated that he wants to spend as little on the publishing side of things as possible in order to maximize profits. Encouraging, right?
This situation does explain why we’re getting two new ongoing “Star Wars” titles now. If Dark Horse can’t get new projects greenlit, then they’ll want to keep these going on for as long as they possibly can. I’m all for getting as much Brian Wood “Star Wars” as we can, though the jury’s still out on the new “Legacy” series. Fortunately for the company, the article doesn’t make any mention about what the company has already published reverting to Marvel at any point. It could be that it just hasn’t been made public, but I certainly hope that’s not the case. Dark Horse losing a future revenue stream is one thing, but to have their entire backlist -- which they have carefully maintained after acquiring the license from Marvel over two decades ago -- stripped away... well, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Now that we have answers, all that’s left is the waiting to see which company will ultimately have the better “Star Wars” legacy. *rimshot*
I’d say that my nemesis arrives this month in print form, but that’s not quite the case. While I was deeply disturbed by the prospect that Marvel would be putting the first four issues of “Uncanny Avengers” in a $25 premiere hardcover, they seem to have realized that was a dumb move as well. Or the Amazon listing was wrong. I could keep second guessing the reasons, but the point is whether or not the comic is worth buying now that we’re getting five issues collected instead of four. I doubt any of you would be surprised to learn that I don’t think so. While I’ve heard good things about the first two issues, they haven’t been the rapturous ravings that I would need in order to pick it up immediately. In short, “Uncanny Avengers” is no “Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.” which is probably the only series I have which I can say I’m proud to own in its premiere hardcover edition.
It’s March after the break, and crossover season again too.
As I’ve said before, if you’re going to do any kind of adaptation of film, TV or other media to comics you need to have talented people on hand if you want to have any hope of making it work. That’s not the only way, though, but it’s usually the most reasonable compared to getting the people who created the original involved. After all, most of the major staff members on any production are generally too busy to commit to any kind of adaptation. By that standard, the “Evangelion” manga is a very rare beast indeed. The series is written and illustrated by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, character designer for the “Eva” TV series and for a whole host of other top-flight anime productions from “Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water,” “.hack//SIGN,” and “Summer Wars.” Though there are some new wrinkles to this story, it’s Sadamoto’s sequential art that makes this worth reading.