Secret #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim – I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, here goes another one of Sean’s Hickman love fests.” Not quite. I know I’m as surprised as you are. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly didn’t hate it. It just didn’t live up to expectations for something form Hickman. There’s a bit of a reveal at the end of the first issue that is glaringly obvious long before you get to it, and frankly I just expected more. The line art is very well done; the panels are laid out well and move the story along nicely. The color art was confusing; each scene had a singular color, although violent scenes were black and white with red, so the colors seem to be tying different scenes together. Was it a clue? Were they tied thematically? I certainly couldn’t tell yet, but that’s more on me than it is the creators of the book. Overall, it is definitely intriguing. In fact I feel unfair reviewing it on its own. As I’ve said before (insert plug for my recent opinion piece) many comics produced today are not designed to stand on their own. So my opinion may be wildly different when I’m able to digest more than the first issue in one sitting, but this is the hook. It should lock you in, and for me it does that but just barely. There’s enough set up here to get me interested to see where he’s going, but if the hooks aren’t firmly in at the end of the next issue I’m out.
Supercrooks #1 and #2 by Mark Millar and Leinil Yu – The first exciting thing was on the credits page. “Co-Plotted by Nacho Vigalondo”. If you’ve never seen the movie Time Crimes, do yourself a favor and check it out. After seeing that, I saw the recent video that Nacho made as a sort of tease for a Supercrooks Movie. I really hope they do it this book is quite obviously structured like a movie. Sometimes that’s a bad thing in comics, but I really like what they are doing here. I was smart on this one to wait until at least two issues are out to start reading (see mistake above). Issue one is pure set up, it introduces the world and the main characters superbly and gives them proper motivation to take on the task that will be the centerpiece of the story. The idea is that they need to pull off a big heist, but the cities are overrun with superheroes, so they know they’re going to get caught and put back in jail. So the main character decides to pull this job in Spainwhere super powered people are not allowed. Mark Millar is writing so there’s the dark outlook on humanity and even the “heroes” have hidden dark sides. This story is perfect for Millar’s outlook and that comes through. Likewise, Yu’s art has always felt a bit dark so he is the perfect fit for the story. Great work here, great set up, interesting characters and great art. They play to the rules of a heist movie and it seems to be promising a damn good time. Imagine Ocean’s Eleven populated by super villains.
The Secret Service #1 by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons – Yeah, I’m taking a double dip in MillarWorld, sue me. This one says co-plotted by Matthew Vaughan, the screenwriter and director of Kick-Ass. The comic and movie of Kick-Ass fed into each other as Millar and Romita were still finishing the original series while Vaughan was writing the adaptation. I’m assuming this is where Millar got the idea to involve directors in the plotting of his comics. The opening of the book plays out as if Millar and Kevin Smith were writing the opening scene of a James Bond movie, without the heroic “Ah-ha!” at the end of it. It involves Mark Hamill, yes that Mark Hamill, being rescued by a British Secret Agent from kidnapping by Middle Eastern terrorists, and it is very funny. The story is steeped in pop culture references and apparently that is a big part of a plot that certainly is neither resolved nor fully revealed in this issue. As before, this is a story that might be served better by reading after more of it is published, but it is very entertaining and if you like spy stories and British culture, you’re going to love it. For those who have trouble with British accents and colloquialisms there’s a few pages in the South of London you’re going to have trouble with. The art is by Dave Gibbons, so I really shouldn’t have to tell you that it’s great. He’s a master of the form and the reason why I couldn’t wait for another issue to start reading this book. It’s hard to tell at this point in the story if Secret agent Jack London or his troubled nephew Gary is going to be the real star of the book. Most likely they’ll be true co-stars, with Gary leading us into this world of intrigue. All I can say with certainty is that it’s going to be a lot of fun finding out.
The New Deadwardians #1 by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard – It’s weird seeing the name Dan Abnett without Andy Lanning right behind it. I haven’t read much of their work outside of their New Mutants run, but it’s still strange to see one without the other. To explain too much of the story would destroy the fun of discovery in this first issue. It does a great job of setting up the characters and the word they live in. It’s London circa 1910, but it’s certainly not “our” Londoncirca 1910. It’s almost like Downton Abbey, but with zombies, vampires and instead of the Lord of a County, our main character is the only homicide Detective left at Scotland Yard. If that doesn’t sound great, well you obviously have never seen Downton Abbey and have no love of supernatural creature stories. I have to confess that vampires and zombies are two things I’ve grown rather tired of seeing. Between this and Scott Snyder’s American Vampire I’m realizing that there is plenty of gold left in this particular genre mine. You just have to know how to find it. Snyder and Dan Abnett are rather resourceful miners.
And finally this week, I’d like to give you my spoiler free, yet insightfully detailed, thoughts on The Avengers film written and directed by Joss Whedon.
Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, go! I haven’t felt that much like a kid at the movies since the first Jurassic Park in 1993. My youngest son spent most of the next day in the back yard with his toy Mjolnir and Thor helmet smiting invisible enemies.
Sean Stoltey, writer, raconteur and retired rabble rouser, hails originally from California’s Central Coast but currently resides in Southern California’s BEAUTIFUL–San Fernando Valley. Screenwriter, Comic Book author, these are things he does because he’s too poor to be a Producer or Publisher.
Sean has been reading comics, watching movies, reading books and selling his soul (or at least his hearing) to Rock’n’Roll for as long as he can remember. He has been discussing and arguing about these things for almost as long.
So now he has come here to throw his opinions in your face as well and hope that, even if you don’t agree, hopefully you will enjoy them. For the record: Kirk was the greatest Enterprise Captain, Han was the only one that shot, Led Zeppelin was the greatest Rock band to walk the Earth and Keith Richards is the coolest undead person to walk the Earth. Coolest living people are my sons and my Mom and Dad. My Dad F—in’ rocks, and my Mom can kick your ass.
You can ask Sean anything you like at http://www.formspring.me/WWest3001 (try not to be rude if you can help it, rudeness will receive no response) follow or contact him via twitter @WWest3001 his personal blog is at http://stolteysbrainblasts.blogspot.com/(be aware, that’s where his frustrations go along with weird writing exercises) or boring old e-mail at SeanStoltey@yahoo.com
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