Single-Panel Reviews: War of the Worlds, Malinky Robot, Usagi Yojimbo, Planetary Brigade, Tails
War of the Worlds Second Wave #1
Boom! Studios $2.99
Writer: Michael Alan Nelson; Artist: Chee; Colorist: Matt Webb
This might be my favorite comic so far from Boom Studios – this new take on the War of the Worlds story looks very promising. The first issue really could be called a prelude, as the action recaps the “first wave,” which is a compressed view of the traditional War of the Worlds plot. The story is told in a first person narrative by Miles, just one of the many victims of the alien invaders. Rattled by the traumatic events, and by guilt, he swears vengeance on the new wave of aliens. The writing tone is teeth-clenching, angry resolve. The art isn’t as gritty, but that’s good, instead it’s rough realism. Chee does a good job at portraying the sweeping devastation even though the story focuses really just on one person. My favorite effect is probably the juxtaposition of the first and last pages, both views of the same park, one before and one after the invasion. This comic is definitely worth picking up.
Bottom Line: B+
Malinky Robot Issue 02: Bicycle
By Sonny Liew
This is a great comic! Though the art varies from sometimes just pen to both pen and pencils with color, the main characters are always beautifully designed and fascinating. The story starts out as friends Oliver Oliphant and Atari bike out to visit their friend Misha. The story gets confusing as the main characters are sitting around a diner table, and the reader joins them mid-conversation, having no idea what they’re talking about. Then the comic is broken out into small sections, each of which illuminate what they were talking about at the table. It’s an inventive and fun way to keep the reader interested by slowly unfolding the plot with short vignettes each with different art styles. The tone is playful but not frenetic, and it’s a very likable comic. The funniest part for me was the section supposedly written by Oliver in which a whole line of the plot is told bit by bit in a series of comic strips meant to parody or impersonate well-known comic strips in a sort of Sunday Comics section layout. Again, very inventive and creative. This is a refreshing comic that doesn’t stick with common conventions of storytelling and very successfully.
Bottom Line: A-
Usagi Yojimbo #90
Dark Horse $2.99
By Stan Sakai
This issue marks a new storyline in Usagi’s adventures. This time while staying at Geishu Castle, mysterious deaths begin occurring. Is a ghost the perpetrator? Or is it something more real and brutal? Stay tuned for the next issue to find out. Though I haven’t read a lot of issues of Usagi Yojimbo, I always enjoy the ones I do pick up. I’ve decided to drop a series I pick up because I have the first X issues, or have misplaced loyalty to, or am too lazy to have already dropped, and instead replace it with something I consistently enjoy. If you haven’t tried out Usagi Yojimbo before, I highly encourage you to do so. Sakai is a master storyteller and a wonderful illustrator.
Bottom Line: A
Planetary Brigade #1
Boom! Studios $2.99
Writers: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis; Artists: Joe Abraham, Cynthia Martin, Eduardo Barretto, Mark Badger, Chase Conley; Colorist: Pilvi of Imaginary Friends Studio
Planetary Brigade is the “sister book” to Hero Squared (which I enjoyed and which will soon be an ongoing series). Obviously it follows the Planetary Brigade, a Justice-League-type organization. What was interesting was the use of different artists for different sections of the comic. I have mixed feelings about this effect, though. While seeing different artists’ take on the characters and action was fun, it seemed a little contrived. The segues into the next section seemed forced, simply there to introduce a new artist. The characters themselves kept me engaged in the comic. Although the Prissuvian character was the most interesting, he was also the wordiest – sometimes a little too wordy. In fact, overall I think the dialogue could have been cut down a little. The issue is overall good, however, and sets up the characters and world of the brigade very well.
Bottom Line: B
By Ethan Young
The second issue in this limited-issue series shows Ethan working at the animal shelter taking (and scooping) shit as usual, but also shows his efforts at getting published as a comic creator. It also follows his relationship with girlfriend Cynthia, and shows a little strain therein. I personally enjoyed the first issue more, but this is still a solid comic, the art is certainly great. I can’t wait to see read the next issue, and in fact anything from Young. His art and tone are right down my alley.
Bottom Line: B+