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Home  >  Features  >  Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: February 22, 2017

OLD GUARD.jpg

 

Geoff takes a look at a new batch of first issues, this time it's SUN BAKERY #1, THE OLD GUARD #1, DARKNESS VISIBLE #1, STARSTRUCK: OLD PROLDIERS NEVER DIE #1, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1, and HIGHLANDER: THE AMERICAN DREAM #1.

 

 

SUN BAKERY #1 (Image Comics)-

1.0 Stars

There is a new anthology series from Image Comics that is so bad one would think it was satire, sadly that is not the case with SUN BAKERY #1. A one man show, Corey Lewis writes and draws a series of one shot and continuing stories collected under the main title. This premier issues features a poorly done Metroid rip off wherein the classic bounty hunter is focused on Instagram pictures, a story about life in a city where guns no longer work and everyone has taken up the sword for personal defense, and a strange tale about a kid who talks to his skateboard.

Lewis himself states in a letter at the end of the issue that this series is based on Shonen Jump, the popular manga magazine from Japan that is full of short stories. While that might have been his inspiration he fell far short of the mark. SUN BAKERY #1 reads like a collection born from the mind of a young man who spends way too much time on four chan, it is the worst of cliched memes and stereotypes from the saddest depths of the internet. The obsession over old video games and then making it worse by shoehorning social media into it will leave readers rolling their eyes before they get through the first few pages. The next story about how much cooler swords are than guns is literally the source of way to many jokes about dorks on the internet who think they are samurai warriors. All of this is made worse by the letter to fans that closes out the issue wherein things that could be viewed as funny satire are actually revealed to be the true passion of the author.

As if the structure and story ideas were not bad enough the art is objectively terrible. It looks like sloppy sketches from a middle school kid with absolutely no idea of body proportion or artistic style. This entire issue looks like it was done by a person with zero artistic talent. SUN BAKERY #1 is one of the worst books I have ever read in terms of art, content, and creator vision. Avoid this at all costs, nobody but the kids in the high school anime club will find this interesting.

 

THE OLD GUARD #1 ( Image Comics)-

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Greg Rucka's tale of four immortal warriors begins this week with the release of THE OLD GUARD #1 from Image Comics. Andy, Joe, Booker, and Nicky are four soldiers who cannot die. It is as yet unclear how long they have been alive or where they met each other along the road but it is clear they have been here for a long time and while they themselves cannot be killed they have a talent for killing others. Baited into a rescue mission the team is instead ambushed by high tech special forces. While their immortality ensured they won the battle their anonymity is lost as the entire scene was recorded and uploaded live. Who set them up and why remains a mystery. All the while on a battlefield half a planet away a young female marine has just recovered from a fatal neck wound, it would appear there is another immortal soldier in the field.

I feel like we are at a point where Greg Rucka can do no wrong and that trend continues with THE OLD GUARD #1. While I was not blown away by the first issue it is yet again another awesome setup with a great premise and a group of interesting and flawed characters. Rucka uses the lone woman of the group, Andy, as his main vehicle for storytelling. She is worn down from a life that has gone on too long. Seemingly broken by endless war and lost love she has resorted to a life of instant gratification until presented with the chance to save a group of young girls who are in the clutches of some very evil men. It was this emotional leap that lands her team in trouble and I am interested to see where Rucka goes with that thread. Overall the issue is well written and moves along at a breathless pace, before you know it 40 pages are over and you are staring at the calendar wondering when issue number two will come out.

Pencils from Leandro Fernandez are very good. His style relies heavily on negative space, heavy use of blacks, and silhouettes. The first comparison I thought of was Eduardo Risso, both artists use blacks and dark colors extremely well and draw characters in a way that is not exactly anatomically accurate yet still pleasing to the eye. The only criticism I have is that when the action gets going the panel to panel movement gets hard to follow. All those blacks and dark colors blue together and the eye does not flow as well from panel to panel. THE OLD GUARD #1 was a solid start for what looks to be another gritty tale from Greg Rucka. Very solid characters lead the way and the unique art builds on that foundation. This first issue did not grab me as hard and Lazarus did but it was still very strong and if there was any new book for readers to check out this week it should be THE OLD GUARD #1.

 

DARKNESS VISIBLE #1 (IDW Publishing)-

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Demons have come to our world and now the two sides share an uneasy truce in DARKNESS VISIBLE #1 from IDW Publishing. The writing pair of Mike Carey and Arvind Ethan David have created a world in which demons from hell have come to the surface and no co-exist with humans. While normally being non-corporeal beings a demon can bond with a human and feed off of its soul in exchange for physical beauty and long life, these combined creatures are known as Shaitan. Daniel Aston is a detective, known as a Cyclops, who is charged with policing these merged beings and attempting to maintain the peace. While responding to a hostage situation Aston is wounded along with a Shaitan criminal. While being escorted by his daughter to the hospital their ambulance is struck and Aston suffers a mortal wound and she is left in a coma. Seemingly dead, Aston awakens on the autopsy table and the reader is left to wonder what kind of deal he made with a demon to save his life.

Carey and David have come up with an interesting world full of uninteresting characters. Aston himself is shown to be a rather run of the mill cop raising his young daughter on her own. He has an obvious distaste for the Shaitan but beyond that there is very little character for the reader to get invested in. The demons as well have little motivation or backstory so we are left with two sides without any real driving force. Things happen, stuff goes bad, and people get hurt which moves the plot along but I found that by the end I was not invested enough to care. The hook the issue closes on is the revival of Aston's body but nowhere in the story is the reader told about the powers of the demons or how the bonding works or what their motivations are so again we are left with nothing to grab onto. It is an interesting world and I would like to know more but it does not work very well as a first issue.

While the character motivations might be lacking the art is not. Brendan Cahill draws with a well detailed and sharp style. Human characters are dynamic and full of personality while the demons allow him to run free with his imagination. There are some really creative ideas on demon kind and how they are manifested in our world and Cahill does a fantastic job of bringing that to the page. DARKNESS VISIBLE #1 is a book full of great ideas but lacking in character development. The groundwork is there for something special and new but we will have to wait for the first few issues to see if it finds its footing.

 

STARSTRUCK: OLD PROLDIERS NEVER DIE #1 (IDW Publishing)-

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Take a trip into the surreal this week with STARSTRUCK: OLD PROLDIERS NEVER DIE #1 from IDW Publishing. This is one of the longer running serial comics that is still being published. Originally conceived as a play, and then published in serial magazine form, the first Starstruck comic debuted in 1984. This week sees the release of the next story written by the long running writing and artist team of Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta. This comic is beautiful, strange, and nearly impenetrable to a new reader such as myself. While it has acquired a dedicated fan base over the years those looking to jump in for the first time should read up on previous volumes or take a deep dive into wikipedia to catch up. Set in the aftermath of a collapsed empire, Starstruck follows Captain Galatia 9 and her partner, Brucilla The Muscle. Bartender Harry Palmer was wronged by the two of them in a previous series and this new book picks up with him as he attempts to process his infatuation with his android love and track them down.

The series is strong with the themes of feminism and absurdism. Everything from the setting to the character art to the dialogue is completely off the wall and rather insane and even though I admit I had no idea what was going on the book was still enjoyable. It is high concept science fiction at its most ridiculous with colorful characters and and a wild imagination. The art by Michael Kaluta is really something else and worth the ticket price alone. Huge vistas and a gigantic sense of scale that is only matched but the unfettered creativity in all aspects of design. I think that if you are going to get into this series you should really seek out some collected volumes and start from there. Pick this issue up at the store to see if the crazy art and ideas grab you and if they do take the deep dive and get lost in a world that has existed for over 30 years and has a cult fan base that would love to talk to you about it.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1 (DC Comics)-

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The long build up for JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1 is finally over as DC Comics releases the first issue of the new ongoing series this week. Over the last month and a half we have seen the steady release of one shot Rebirth issues from Steve Orlando highlighting the various characters of the team. Now we finally get the beginning of the new story and it does not disappoint. Batman's team of down to Earth characters face their first threat when The Extremists cross into our dimension on a self described mission of mercy. Their world was destroyed and they blame the personal freedoms of the populace. Now this group has come to our Earth to establish a dictatorship and, in their eyes, save us from ourselves.

This has been the issue I have been waiting for. Some of the solo shots were solid, especially the Killer Frost Rebirth issue, but this is the real jumping on point for the new vision of the JLA and it was a great comic to read. Steve Orlando has a good take on the characters and writes a stern but slightly more compassionate Batman. In this issue he is not the dark moody loner but rather the leader of team. These new young heroes are looking to him and that aspect of the book in particular is extremely well done. The villains are nothing special but they serve their purpose as a foil and a need to test our new superhero team. The real stand out character is Killer Frost, or Frost as she is attempting to become. Her rehabilitation is fun to read and I think fans of The Flash TV show will enjoy seeing this more personable version of Caitlyn Snow on the comic book page.

Ivan Reis is in top form when it comes to the pencils on this issue. I think this is some of the best work he has done since Green Lantern and the entire issue shines from cover to cover. Characters look great and their newly inspired designs are very well done. The panel work and action flow well together, especially in the climactic battle towards the end of the issue. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1 does not break the mold or try anything very new but it does excel as a solid superhero story with great characters and beautiful art. Even if you skipped all the prelude issues go pick this up. It is all characters you know and their individual backstories hold no real relevance to this relaunch.

 

HIGHLANDER: THE AMERICAN DREAM #1 (IDW Publishing)-

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Highlander was one of those great 80's movies that pretty much everyone has a soft spot for even if it does not hold up very well. This week IDW Publishing is releasing HIGHLANDER: THE AMERICAN DREAM #1, a new series that will chronicle the life of Connor MacLeod as he aged throughout the history of the United States. Penned by Brian Ruckley we pick up in 1985 shorty before the gathering that will drive the plot of the original movie. MacLeod meets with Osta Vazilek, an immortal like himself who has dedicated his long life to faith and lived as a monk for over 500 years. The two recount their first meeting during the American Civil War. Macleod was wounded and wandered into Vazilek's monastery while being pursued by another immortal almost as ruthless as the infamous Kurgan. It is this immortal that seeks to draw out Macleod by inflicting violence against the locals and he will get his wish.

Ruckley sets up the reader with a familiar setting from the movie and then drops us into the long untold past of The Highlander. There is tons of history to pull from and starting right off the bat with the Civil War was a great start. We are quickly introduced to a cast similar to the movie with one benevolent immortal that befriends MacLeod and another who is out to kill him. With that triumvirate established the rest of the series can be spent having fun tracking MacLeod throughout history. The issue is rather simple and does not attempting and mind bending story telling but that is not always needed. This is clearly a book meant for fans of the Highlander movie who want to fill in some blanks of MacLeod's past.

Like the story the art is simple with no real drawbacks but it did not blow me away either. Andrea Mutti does not strive for film likeness with any characters and thus MacLeod does not really stand out against any other characters on the page. The pencils are a bit muddy and the characters all have this angry look to their faces that is a bit off putting in cases where that emotion is not warranted by the script. There are some high points throughout the issue but overall I do not think it has much visual appeal. I cannot think of too many people I would recommend this book to as the number of hard corps fans for The Highlander cannot be that high. In the end this is an average story based on an iconic 80's property that seeks to flesh out the life of Connor MacLeod with mediocre art.

 

Don't just take our word for it. Grab the books yourself and let us know what you think!

 

More Reviews on MightyVille:

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: February 15, 2017

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: February 08, 2017

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: February 02, 2017

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