The Comic Queen

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Single Panel Reviews: Sky Ape, Planetary Brigade, Mouse Guard, Flying Friar, Zombie Tales, Moxie

Sky Ape: King of Girls
AiT/Planet Lar $4.95
Writers: Phil Amara, Tim McCarney, Mike Russo; Artist: Richard Jenkins
Comics that can make me laugh out loud page after page are a rare treat. Luckily this latest installment of King of Apes is one tasty treat. First off, I don’t know what it is about a cigar-chomping gorilla that wears goggles and a jet pack or a minotaur with a monocle and top hat, but that shit just cracks me up. I know I can be simplistic (perhaps even simple minded), but sometimes the little things in life are the most enjoyable. The book follows a loose plot wherein Derrick Williamson is training nerds to be uber-suave lotharios, but really the plot is just a frame around which a series of one-panel to a few-page jokes are strung together. I don’t always enjoy this kind of a setup, but it works in this case. If you want a good chuckle, and a break from comics that take themselves a little too seriously, then pick up King of Apes.
Bottom Line: B+

Planetary Brigade #2
Boom Studios $2.99
Writers: Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis; Artists: Fabio Moon, Zid of IFS, Joe Abraham, and Alfa of IFS; Colorist: Pilvi Kuusela of IFS
I wasn’t sure I’d ever find a superhero comic outside of the DC-Marvel realm that I’d really be able to get into. I’m having a hard enough time in the DC-Marvel universes as it is. But with Planetary Brigade, Giffen and DeMatteis have created a fun set of characters, and are less concerned with building a gigantic world or system around the characters and are more interested in developing them and just plain having fun. My biggest criticism for the first issue – that with different artists taking on different sections of the book, the lack of continuity of the art is hard on readers – wasn’t an issue for this second installment. There were different artists, but the styles weren’t so radically different to cause confusion.
Bottom Line: B

Mouse Guard: Belly of the Beast #1 (of 6)
Archaia Studios Press $3.50
Creator: David Petersen
This is a beautiful and engaging first issue to what looks to shape up as a great adventure comic. The book follows the Mouse Guard, a group of mice who watch over the forest. This book is all ages in the best sense of the genre – much like Lord of the Rings is all ages. It’s something adults and kids would absolutely take to and love. Not to mention that this fantasy adventure has some of the most gorgeous art I’ve seen in a comic. You may read the story just once, but you’ll find yourself flipping through the comic over and over.
Make sure to visit Archaia's website, they have preview art of the first two issues.
Bottom Line: A

The Flying Friar
Speakeasy Comics $4.95
Writer: Rich Johnston; Artist: Thomas Nachlik
I keep trying to nail down my thoughts on this comic, but I’m having a heck of a time doing so. There were some things I thought were immensely successful, the art and the tone of the writing were especially good. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the story or “get it.” There were just parts, especially toward the end, where I felt like the story line got away and instead of being linear or an orchestrated non-linear, it spider-webbed off from its beginnings. However, I don’t mean to be negative here at all, in fact I definitely recommend picking up the book. Taking a step back, the comic follows two boys, Lux and Joseph, jumping in time throughout their lives, though most of the story takes place when they are about in their late teens. Lux is driven with the desire to fly, and though all Joseph wants is to join a monastery, he is the one who ultimately flies. Although the characters are based loosely on real historical figures, the story is fiction. In doing this, Johnston combines mysticism and religion, juxtaposing many elements throughout the book for an intriguing and thought-provoking read.
Bottom Line: B+

Zombie Tales: Death Valley #2
Boom! Studios $6.99
Story by: Andrew Cosby; Writer: Johanna Stokes; Artist: Rhoald Marcellus
This second part of the two-issue story wraps up the Zombies-take-over-L.A. plot. In this issue, the zombies are adapting and getting stronger, but so are the handful of kids who managed to survive. The art (especially page layouts) and colors are eye catching. Though the story is on the light side, a little formulaic, that is the genre the book is in, after all. I think a little younger audience than myself would find this an especially good read. I can certainly see this being developed as a TV movie for one of the family channels. Good adventure, teen characters that develop through their ordeal and come out on top, and zombies – can’t go wrong with them.
Bottom Line: B

Moxie, My Sweet
Finecomix $6.95
By David Lasky, Tatiana Gill, Stefan Gruber, Sarah Galvin, Elijah Brubaker, Kaz Strzepek, Scott Faulkner, Dalton Webb
A group of artists illustrate a collection of short stories by Mark Campos in this solid and entertaining anthology. I always enjoy David Lasky’s art, which in “Ramble On!” illustrates a pot-induced daydream. Tatiana Gill is responsible for the art on one of my favorite parts of the book: In “Maxine’s” a young woman gets a Tarot card reading that she cynically rejects but discovers her cynicism came a little too quickly in this case. “Appliances Gone Wrong” cracked me up, and Elijah Brubaker did an awesome job on “Colony of Cats”—a beautifully illustrated fairy tale. I also enjoyed Kazmir Strzepek’s work on “Endless Plain of Fortune” where a cute vampire boy gathers scraps of paper that are flying through the air like snowflakes and shapes them into a “snowman.” These aren’t the only highlights, just my favorites, and I recommend picking this anthology up.
Bottom Line: B+


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