The Comic Queen

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews 9/16/05

Cold Water Press $2
Writer: Sara Ryan; Artist: Steve Lieber
I honestly have yet to figure out why Lieber and Ryan don’t get more attention for their work. Lieber’s art, especially, is amazing -- meticulous, eye-catching, familiar yet original -- he doesn’t just illustrate a story, he brings it up a notch. The story this time is about Maddy, a publicist trying to keep up a poor juggling act between home and work, when a real juggling act, the Flytrap Circus, walks in the door looking for help. “Flytrap” is billed as the first installment featuring Maddy and the traveling Flytrap Circus. The comic is a satisfying short story in itself but ends with the perfect teaser for more. I certainly hope the next installment will be available soon, since mini-comics with fine storytelling and great art are a rare treat.
Bottom line: A-

Hero Squared #1 and #2
Boom Studios $3.99
Writers: Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis; Artist: Joe Abraham (with Mark Badger and Shannon Denton on issue #2); Colorist: Matt Nelson (and Mark Badger on issue #2)
Between dueling crises in the superhero universes of “The Big Two,” I’ve been getting a little burnt out on superhero comics. So, I wasn’t sure I wanted to take a chance on another, especially from a new publisher. However, I gave “Hero Squared” a shot, and was pleasantly surprised. The book takes the best elements of the superhero genre, throws in some light-hearted humor, and serves up a thoroughly enjoyable read. The plot is that Milo and Stephie, two typical 20-somethings, are now dealing with their doubles from another universe; a universe in which Milo is the superhero “Captain Valor” and Stephie is the evil “Lord Caliginous.”

I have a few criticisms, such as, occasionally, the witty dialogue crossed the line from the right amount to weighing down the action or slowing down the story. Also, in the second issue, backstory is revealed in flashbacks each from Caliginous’s and Valor’s perspectives, which was done with mixed results – sometimes effective, sometimes too much. However, these are fairly minor criticisms.

Overall, the comic is an enjoyable read reminding me in tone of Invincible or Runaways. So, if you’re looking for a new, refreshing superhero comic, give Hero Squared a try.
Bottom line: B+

The Black Diamond OnRamp #0
AiT/Planet Lar $2.95
Writer: Larry Young; Artist: Jon Proctor
As a stand-alone pre-issue to The Black Diamond six-issue series, this comic certainly whets the appetite, but I’m not sure it is done quite as successfully in the comic itself as Young’s two-page lowdown/character and plot synopsis that follows the comic. Must say, though, that the color was very nicely done, deep and rich in oranges and greens especially. Some of the inking, though, I’m not wild about; the linework around and on people is too thick in many cases giving a distorted, almost grotesque look to the characters. Though, much of the illustration, especially on the cars, was pretty sweet. Of course, the high-concept plot by Young is unrivaled: a no-holds-barred highway connecting the two coasts comes, literally, crashing into the lives of two people living below the massive, elevated Black Diamond highway.
Bottom line: B

G.I. Spy #1
Boom Studios $3.99
Writer: Andrew Cosby; Artist: Matt Haley
James Bond with a dash of Indiana Jones is the concept for this comic. However, Cosby just doesn’t have a good sense of pace in this issue at all, one scene jumps to the next with no feel of continuity or purpose. The comic is a series of action scenes with not much connecting them, creating a rushed feeling, and this, unfortunately, just doesn’t do justice to the top quality art by Haley, of which the first five pages set in Antarctica was exceptional.
Bottom line: C-


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