The new Locke & Key comic is an interesting creation. Much of the plot twists are based on familiarity with the series, and if you know the comics well, you'll see them coming a mile of. But for newcomers, too much is not explained and you may be left unsatisfied. But fir all that, it's a very entertaining comic and a clear nod to the EC horror tales of old, from the lettering on…
Watchmen: Minutemen also plays with the lettering to give a direct contrast between the contrast of comic book reality of the period to the actual reality. It's a beautiful use of the medium, and cleverly played across a number of panels, but it feels like an overworn argument, one that has been played out to the extent that it seems obvious. It does however lead to a wonderful denouement with Silhouette, with other panels through the book seemingly portraying something erotic, all drenched in pink, but then revealing itself to be far more. Some of the more experimental storytelling in comics today even if, occasionally, it falters.
And that, FF style, is how you do beginning-issue exposition. Before we dive headfirst into a stellar story of grand politics, in conflict with love. If you're liking Saga this may be worth picking up…
Crossed Badlands gives us Bikers vs Crossed-style Circus folk. It's like this idea has always been here, inside the uncarved block, waiting to be uncovered. Two over the top communities, finding a reason to destroy each other. And in the middle of it, the least likely "hero", reversing stereotypes over who your leading man would be, and what it takes to survive such horror. A fascinating arc, that through all the gore and horror, is trying to point out something even more uncomfortable about people than this comic usually delves into.
Gambit is becoming a bit of a semi-book. It does lots of things, car chase, romantic tension, rooftop fight scenes, breaking and entering, semi-well. They're okay, but hardly at the top of their league. It may be the art, mediocre-nineties style with heavy colouring as if to cover it up and provide some pizazz, but it's making a lot of the set pieces here fall flat. And a couple of good lines in a script didn't justify the mediocreness of the rest of it. It's okay, you know, it's just not really all that. Supercrooks and SCAM doe sthis better.
Ferals takes the male/female law enforcement double act, has them splitting up according to stereotype and then wrenches those stereotypes forward, the macho bullshit extended to ludicrous, visceral, violent degrees, while the gossipy women take suspected infidelity and turn it into vicious street level assault. One has less blood, but both are equally impactful.
Mudman is absolutely the best comic that no one is buying, with Paul Grist showing an absolute mastery of the comic page layout to rival JH Williams III, Frank Quitely, Sergio Toppi and Simone Bianchi. That he has a rougher, more cartoony, blockier style counts against him in certain eyes, but I find that grounds the comic book pages far more than the other names I mentioned, making the characters relatable, flawed and closer to the reader. It also helps that Grist has a Whedonesque grasp of dialogue, a Moffatlike sense of structure and an Erik Larsen approach to creating new, different, amazing characters. Buy this comic, people.
Phantom Girl And Doll Man is less vital. One of those comics where the origin story is an age a way, so they feel a need to show the superhero in action and then flashback to her life. For an issue, it feels short, unsatisfying and, frankly dull. Which is never good for a superhero comic book. It may suit a longer format, but then it should have been published like that…
Wolverine And The X-Men focuses on exactly what this does best. It keeps everyone at the school and goes from classmate to teacher to classmate working through their lives, their issues, their problems, their fights, their loves and their hates. It fits in huge amounts of teen angst, teen confidence, and the hapless feel of an adult who realises that they are not that different to their charges. There is so much here, and so well told in the wake of the Avengers Vs X-Men fight happening elsewhere that once again, it highlights how silly that comic book is, and how much better this one is. The characters complain that they are not a part of the bigger picture, I'm grateful that they aren't. Someone should really notice. Oh and Husk and Toad? It is on!
The New Deadwardians continues to inspire, and plays with the reader, encouraging them to forget what makes this world special, and then reminding you in a creepy, surprising fashion. This issue tackles head on, not just the effect of zombification and vampirism solidifying existing class structure, but also what that might mean to human concept of death and murder, and the new kinds of crimes that are suddenly possible, while doing so in a very classy, reserved and underplayed fashion. So, yes, that's pretty much why it's become my favourite Vertigo comic. Is it you?
While Ultimates shows the people trying to change the world, fix the world, or at least shore up their own patch of it, Ultimate X-Men shows people living in that world, and moving from place to place, the micro versus the macro. A very different book to the one that I used to read and then, well stopped. It's a longer, more drawn out Days Of Future Past. It's closer in tone to Warren Ellis' Doom 2099. It's basically turned from a comic book that I didn't really enjoy to the kind of comic I would have enjoyed back then. And probably still do a bit.
AVX Versus gives you a little look at superhero domestic violence. And for a comic book intended to be all about the fight scenes without the plot, delivers a far more emotionally resonant ending to the marriage of Storm and Black Panther than the main series actually managed to.
Well, in Journey Into Mystery, not only do we have a Loki that sounds like Loki, as mighty supernatural forces go to war, we also have Volstagg getting down and dirty with an iPad. It's this strange dissonance that was missing in the first chapter of the story but is very present here. As everything that Loki has accomplished is questioned and found lacking. Oh, you think you were cried out before, It seems that there are far more tears to come.
Morning Glories #21 goes through the motions of those early days at the school, and the repetitive discoveries of certain pupils, and plays with it, taking scenes we'd seen with some cast members, and sees how they play out with different students. And how they lead to a certain scene in the forest, that you've been waiting to see resolved for some time. And no, it doesn;t go the way you are expecting, and you'll find out why. Also, you know, 36 colour pages of story for $2.99.
More comics should learn from that one.
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London.