The GeeksverseFirst Impressions | The Fuse, The White Suits, GoGetters, The Punisher, and more

First Impressions | The Fuse, The White Suits, GoGetters, The Punisher, and more
Published on Thursday, February 27, 2014 by
In Part One of our First Impressions coverage for February, Troy and Zedric share previews and reviews of ten #1 issues, including the debuts of The Fuse, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, GoGetters, Loki: Ragnarok and Roll, The White Suits, The Punisher, and more. [Click here to read Part Two of our comprehensive look at the #1s of February 2014—ed.]

First Impressions is our (more-or-less) monthly look at first issues, one-shots, and “entry-point” comics. Unless otherwise indicated, all reviewed issues are digital copies provided free-of-charge by their respective publishers, publicists, or creative team personnel.

The Fuse #1 (Image Comics, $3.50 print/$2.99 digital) [EDITOR’S PICK]

  • thefuse1Story: Antony Johnston
  • Illustrations: Justin Greenwood
  • Colors: Shari Chankhamma
  • Publisher’s summary: Working homicide 22,000 miles up on an orbiting energy platform, in a five-mile-long jury-rigged steel city stuffed with a half million people, with no help from your so-called colleagues back on Earth, is more than tough…it’s murder! Cynical, foul-mouthed veteran ANTONY JOHNSTON (UMBRAL, Wasteland, Daredevil) gets partnered with fresh-faced idealist JUSTIN GREENWOOD (Wasteland, Resurrection) for a new crime series with attitude! Murder, mayhem, and mystery—22,000 miles straight up.
  • Click here to read the four-page “trailer” for The Fuse.

Zedric Dimalanta: As in Umbral (first issue reviewed here), The Fuse sees acclaimed comics scribe Antony Johnston paired with one of his Wasteland collaborators—this time, it’s artist Justin Greenwood. That’s where the superficial similarities between the two new Image Comics titles end, however, as The Fuse‘s “Judge Dredd-meets-The Rookie-meets-Homicide: Life on the Street” mash-up conceit is about as far away from Umbral‘s cheeky take on high fantasy as one can imagine, and even though both Umbral illustrator Christopher Mitten and Greenwood worked on Wasteland, it’s fair to say that while their styles and strengths as artists aren’t mutually exclusive, their work is nonetheless distinct from each other in appearance.

This first issue introduces us to our protagonists: the savvy, seasoned (not to mention sarcastic) homicide sergeant Klementina “Klem” Ristovych and gung-ho newcomer to space station law enforcement, homicide detective Ralph Dietrich. The odd couple cop pairing is an established trope in crime-themed popular entertainment, but Johnston manages to upend reader expectations and preconceptions in a number of ways. Ristovych and Dietrich aren’t American, for one thing—the former hails from Moscow while the latter voluntarily transferred from a police department in Germany—but thankfully, save for a stray “Gott” from Dietrich, Johnston avoids Claremont-style accents and unprompted, gratuitous code-switching, allowing readers to focus on what is being said rather than how it is being said. Johnston even offers a reasonable in-universe explanation for Ristovych’s facility with the English language, in that anyone living for a significant length of time on the space station city eventually starts talking like its majority native English speaker residents. Klem Ristovych is also cast from a different mold than your usual fictional female sleuth: her no-nonsense, grizzled, veteran gumshoe is a welcome departure from the snooping amateurs and sexy supercops that one commonly finds in classic and contemporary crime comics. (Also, from my limited—and possibly erroneous—understanding of Russian naming conventions, it looks to me that the somewhat androgynous Klem’s surname is written in the masculine format. I’m not sure if this is an error, a simple case of Johnston rendering her surname in the “default” masculine format for English, or a subtle detail that is intended to provide further insight into the character.)

There’s a murder mystery at the heart of The Fuse‘s narrative, although at this point, it’s still too early to tell how Johnston plans for it to play out. Judging by his afterword, however, it seems like he intends for readers to “play along at home” and that clues will be doled out to the characters and readers at the same time, which is how I generally prefer my murder mysteries.

With its novel setting, interesting characters, entertaining dialogue, intriguing mystery, and solid rendering and visual storytelling courtesy of Greenwood, The Fuse should be right up the alley for most any fan of sci-fi and/or crime comics.

GoGetters #1 (Monkeybrain Comics, 99¢) [EDITOR’S PICK]

  • Go-Getters_01-1Story: Shawn Aldridge
  • Illustrations: Christopher Peterson
  • Colors: Nick Johnson
  • Publisher’s summary: Maya Diaz and her “pet” white gorilla, George Harrison, run a retrieval company: GoGetters Retrieval, Inc. Need something retrieved, be it a person, rare coin, a favorite cocktail jacket, or genetically engineered clown-panda? You call them. Hired to retrieve the only legal Double Eagle coin in existence, Maya and George find themselves fighting numerically challenged thugs and hoping they have enough nectarines to see them through.
  • NOTE: This comic was purchased by the reviewer.

Troy OsgoodAt first glance, GoGetters seems like an odd book.  A female “hunter” of lost items is accompanied by a giant white gorilla.  Yeah, just a bit odd.

But Shawn Aldridge, relatively new name on the scene that he is, makes it work and doesn’t disappoint. I first encountered Shawn Aldridge’s work on 215 Ink’s Vic Boone—a book I really enjoyed and had me eager to check out GoGetters.

GoGetters is a difficult book to describe: It’s funny, serious, and crazy all at once—that makes it sound like it’s all over the place tonally, but it really an excellent book with well-crafted, engaging characters, fun situations, and beautiful art that fits the tone of the story. Oh, and you really don’t want to piss off George Harrison. And pay attention to the backgrounds, there’s a lot going on in them.

Being a Monkeybrain Comics title, GoGetters is a digital-exclusive for now (although a future print edition from IDW is a definite possibility), but it’s cheap enough that it’s worth the risk of trying.  You won’t be disappointed.

The White Suits #1 (of 4; Dark Horse, $3.99) [EDITOR’S PICK]

  • White-SuitsStory: Frank Barbiere
  • Art: Toby Cypress
  • Publisher’s summary: Mysterious killers dressed in white, they savaged the Cold War Russian underworld—then disappeared. Now they have resurfaced in New York, leaving a trail of dead mobsters. In this bloody wake, an amnesiac and an FBI agent search for the answer to a single question: Who are the White Suits?

Zedric: Whatever one chooses to call it—Russian mafia, russkaya mafiya, Bratva, or vory v zakone—Russian organized crime has become a topic of much fascination for crime fiction writers in the West in recent years. The myths and apocryphal tales of brutality surrounding Russian organized crime rival that associated with the Sicilian mafia, the Japanese yakuza, the Chinese triads, and Latin American drug cartels, making members of the Slavic criminal enterprise ideal foils for a writer’s putative hero.

Much of this first issue is devoted to demonstrating just how fearsome the mysterious White Suits are. Barbiere accomplishes this in two ways: through direct portrayal of the White Suits’ lethal exploits, and by showing how rumor of their infiltration of New York has the city’s resident criminal kingpins and federal investigators quaking in their boots, and even then, Barbiere drops just enough clues for the reader to speculate if the White Suits, as they’re briefly glimpsed in this issue, are who they are reputed to be. It’s an intriguing mystery tied to the subplot concerning the amnesiac protagonist, whose connection to the White Suits is being tantalizingly held up as something to be potentially revealed in a later issue.

To be perfectly honest, it was the name of artist Toby Cypress, whose work I previously raved about in reviews of Image Comics’ Blue Estate, that drew my attention to the project when it was first announced at last year’s NYCC. Cypress does not disappoint and turns in capital work in this issue. His choice of a partial color palette, enhancing select panels and pages with red highlights, overlays, and duotones is inspired and actually reinforces the visual storytelling—objects and figures pop out of and melt into the background as necessary. The White Suits #1 is easily one of the four or five best-looking comics I’ve read all month.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 (Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99)

  • Turok01-CoverStory: Greg Pak
  • Art: Mirko Colak
  • Cover: Bart Sears
  • Publisher’s summary: THE GOLD KEY UNIVERSE BEGINS HERE! Classic Characters by some of Comics Hottest Creators! – Magnus, Solar, Turok and Dr. Spektor! Dynamite is proud to present an all-new adventure ongoing from superstar GREG PAK (Batman/Superman, World War Hulk) and incredible artist MIRKO COLAK (Red Skull: Incarnate, Conan)! Shunned from his tribe, a young Native American named Turok fights to survive, making a lonely life for himself in the unforgiving forest. But his hard-won cunning and survival skills face the ultimate test when man-eating THUNDER LIZARDS attack his people! Why are dinosaurs here? How have they survived? And will Turok use his abilities to save a society that’s taken everything away from him?
  • NOTE: This comic was purchased by the reviewer.

Troy: Old issues of Turok: Son of Stone, Magnus: Robot Fighter, and Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom distributed by Western Publishing under its Gold Key, Dell, and Whitman comics imprints were some of my first comics ever. As such, these characters have occupied a soft spot in my heart over the years, and I’ve always been interested in the various attempts by publishers and creators to reintroduce them to new generations of readers. What’s interesting to me is the enduring love people have for these characters and how they’ve always managed to find a publishing home despite changes in comic book trends. The original Valiant Comics (co-founded by ex-Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter) struck comic book gold with its licensed Turok, Magnus, and Solar comics during the 1990s speculator boom era. Dark Horse Comics, again working with Jim Shooter, struck out with the same characters some four years ago. Now it’s Dynamite’s turn to take a swing at the license.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is the first book from Dynamite’s Gold Key relaunch and it’s (yet again) a fresh take on the property, and writer Greg Pak introduces a couple of new wrinkles to start it off: Turok isn’t (yet) the bad-ass that we’ve been accustomed to seeing in prior Turok comics and Andar (the Robin to Turok’s Batman) isn’t the young kid most Turok fans probably expected to see. Which is fine, really, but it leaves me wondering why creators don’t even try to recreate the original mythos—it worked well then and I can see it working now.

Pak’s take on Turok’s world is darker than prior versions. In this version, Turok is something of an outsider and social outcast, an interesting twist, although his interactions with the rest of his tribe come off as a bit clichéd. How often have we seen the outsider get bullied by the popular kids, whose parental figure just happens to be a leader in the local community?

Pak does pull off an intriguing ending with Crusaders showing up on the shores of ancient Manhattan, which leads to what I found to be the most interesting part of the story: In most Turok comics, he and Andar go through a cave (or portal) and wind up in a lost land. In this version, it seems the entire world is the lost land. It does raise the question of where did the dinosaurs of Turok’s world come from, especially since there was nothing in the preceding pages to suggest that they existed in this world. It just comes off as odd and sudden, but it was no more jarring than Turok following Andar back to the village right after Andar accused Turok of trying to kill him (if that sounds confusing, well, it was).

I like Colak’s art but I had a hard time following a lot of the more action-oriented scenes and it just read somewhat unevenly. I don’t know if the issue was Colak’s layouts or Pak’s script, or a combination of both.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 was decent but not great.  I’ll give it another issue or two to really grab my attention but it was not the strongest of starts.

The Punisher #1 (Marvel, $3.99)

  • Punisher201401_001Story: Nathan Edmondson
  • Art: Mitch Gerads
  • Publisher’s summary: For years, The Punisher has waged a war on crime in New York City with an array of very large guns, but a lead on a major source of drugs, weapons, and more has set his many sights due west. NOW! Frank Castle’s in the City of Angels, looking to give the devil his due. Things aren’t all they appear, though, with a highly trained military hit squad hot on Frank’s tail. Caught between a posse of Punisher predators and targets of his own one-man-war, Frank’s manifest destiny may be a shallow grave!
  • NOTE: This comic was purchased by the reviewer.

Zedric: In our post-NYCC 2013 Roundtable discussion, I listed this Punisher relaunch, billed as part of Marvel Comics’ All-New Marvel NOW! campaign, as one of my most anticipated titles of 2014. My hopes and excitement for the title stemmed less from being a fan of the black-clad, gun-toting vigilante and had more to do with the fact that writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Mitch Gerads would be handling the book. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in reviews and articles, I think Edmondson and Gerads’ The Activity (published by Image Comics) is one of the most consistently well-made and entertaining military-themed comics out there, although it does seem like it’s on indefinite hiatus as of this writing. On paper, Edmondson and Gerads on the Punisher looks like a perfect fit, a pairing that could possibly reach the same pulse-pounding heights and depressing depths as writer Garth Ennis and artist Goran Parlov’s best work on the highly-acclaimed MAX-branded Punisher title from several years back.

It is perhaps because of those elevated expectations that I came away just slightly underwhelmed by The Punisher #1. There’s nothing “wrong” with Edmondson’s work on this issue—he returns the character to where he works best, engaged in a one-man guerrilla war against organized crime in an urban setting removed from the usual superheroes and sci-fi gadgetry of the Marvel Universe—it’s really the book’s foundational premise that I find a little problematic. One of strengths of Ennis’ work on the MAX Punisher series was its rich historical and thematic backdrop. Ennis made the bold choice of ignoring Marvel’s so-called “sliding timescale,” treating the character’s Vietnam War veteran origins not as an inconvenient artifact to be ignored in order to update the protagonist as a younger character, but as the starting point for a treatment that saw the Punisher elevated from run-of-the-mill vigilante comic to, at its absolute best, a vehicle for socio-political commentary and examining, with something of a satirical eye, the lingering after-effects of the Cold War and foreign interventionism in the developing world. The current “in-continuity” version of the Punisher that Edmondson has to work with, at this point, isn’t (yet) informed and burdened by the same sense history as Ennis’ version. He could just as well be an off-brand Dexter Morgan in black kevlar, armed with an HK416 assault rifle.

All that being said, if there’s a comics writer out there who can ground this sliding timescale version of the Punisher in contemporary themes and turn the comic into more than just a “cool shootout scene of the month” gallery, it’s Edmondson. Whether or not this squares with Marvel’s vision for the character and the comic is another matter entirely, of course, and I suppose we’ll have to stick with the title for at least the duration of this establishing story-arc to see how it shakes out.

I have no qualms about Gerads’ work on the art side of things, however. While I was already a fan of his work on The Activity, I very much like the incremental changes he’s adopted for his work on this title. It looks like he’s cut down a fair bit on the hatching and blocks of black inks and ratcheted up the stylization with his figurework a tad—the result is an aesthetic somewhat reminiscent of the work of Jordi Bernet and contemporary European artists like Eduardo Risso and the aforementioned Parlov. Also, I’m quite impressed with the amount of attention he pays to drawing weapons: It’s not very often in mainstream superhero comics (even one that is only nominally so) that a reader can consistently identify, from multiple angles, the specific make and model of the real-world firearms depicted by an artist. This is probably the best work I’ve seen from Gerads in any single issue of a comic, full stop.

The Royals: Masters of War #1 (of 6; DC/Vertigo, $2.99)

  • RMOWAR01-CvrStory: Robbie Williams
  • Illustrations: Simon Coleby
  • Colors: J.D. Mettler
  • Publisher’s summary: The year is 1940. As the Blitz destroys London and kills thousands, the Royal Family looks on. But in this world, the only people with special abilities are Royalty, and the purer the bloodline, the greater their abilities. So why don’t they stop the carnage with their powers? A truce between the Earth’s nobles has kept them out of our wars—until now. When England’s Prince Henry can take no more and intervenes, will it stop the planet’s suffering or take it to another level?
  • NOTE: This comic was purchased by the reviewer.

Troy: I really like what Williams is setting up with this series but in the end, one big issue with story logic could make this falter.

I like the idea of royal families across the world being the only superheroes.  If you really think about it, it makes a particular kind of sense. Throughout history, it’s almost always been those with the means to enforce their will through hard power who end up becoming rulers and gain the mark of royalty, so it only seems reasonable that people gifted with innate super powers would rise to the top and jealously protect and maintain their bloodlines. The idea that super-powered royalty would get together behind the scenes and work out an agreement to stay out of conflicts, that also makes sense. Together, they have the power to destroy the world—so no single royal family would enter a war for fear that the others would and consign the world to Mutually Assured Destruction.

Those premises work. But how they are developed in the first issue doesn’t.  Henry is the youngest son of the current King of England, during the time of World War II. He’s angered by the death and destruction being rained on his nation by Germany He wants to do something but he’s forbidden by his father. He feels that his father and older brother are being cowards. With his powers, he feels he should be involved, and to Williams and especially Coleby’s credit, it’s hard not to sympathize with Henry, given the portrayal of the ruin Germany has wrought on England.

It all falls apart in the issue’s closing pages, however.

Apparently, Henry is unaware of the fact that the rest of the world’s royalty have super powers and the world-at-large has no idea that that the various royal houses have a standing pact that forbids them from using their super powers in military conflicts. Wouldn’t Henry’s father have told him about the world’s superpowered royals and wouldn’t the British government have, at some point, learned about this pact?

What is a very strong first issue, with excellent characterization, pacing and art, ends up suffering a bit in the last two pages due to an odd, somewhat forced twist. Hopefully the next issue can work its way back from this development.

Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1 (of 4; BOOM! Studios, $3.99)

  • Regular cover by Alexis ZirittStory: Eric M. Esquivel
  • Illustrations: Jerry Gaylord
  • Colors: Gabriel Cassata
  • Publisher’s summary: What happens when Odin banishes Loki to Earth? He finds a world of outcasts that appreciate his style! While his kin sharpen their weapons, he picks up an electric guitar.

Zedric: Eric Esquivel and Jerry Gaylord’s Loki: Ragnarok and Roll paints the Norse god of mischief as a protagonist—a hero, even—for our modern times: a perennial underdog who gets by using his wit, charm, sense of humor, and smarts. He’s the Peter Parker to the Flash Thompson represented by the book’s version of Thor, portrayed as a violent, boorish oaf and bully who is nonetheless Odin’s favored son. It’s an interesting reversal of the dynamic we’re accustomed to in classical myth and in Marvel’s superhero comics, where Thor is the hero to Loki’s villain (and occasional anti-hero).

As with most opening issues, the bulk of the pages here are devoted to establishing the basics of the character relationships and laying down the groundwork for the fiction’s universe, and Esquivel does an effective job of both. Loki’s motivations and issues are clearly articulated from the outset, and I like the fact that Loki uses dialogue first and foremost as his initial tool for conflict resolution. It’s a refreshing alternative to the “punch/blast/shoot first, ask questions later” convention, although I do think Esquivel could have done a slightly more artful and convincing job showing the god’s gift for guile in those instances. The book’s conceit that the Nordic pantheon are figments of human thought powered by belief and that they co-exist with a number of other deities is rife with narrative potential. (I do have to say, though, that the premise sounds strikingly similar to the one in January 1992’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #43—that comic even featured Loki in a major antagonist role).

Jerry Gaylord handles the visuals well, whether he’s illustrating a fantasy landscape or a grimy L.A. nightclub, and his ability to convey emotion and intent through exaggerated and cartoonish expressions and gestures is especially worth noting. I do have one complaint about the art, though (a very minor one), in that his portrayal of Tu Er Shen (the “Chinese god of male-on-male love”) seems to be patterned after Japanese fashion: He is depicted wearing a kimono and a katana strapped to his back and sort of looks like Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. It’s not really a big issue, but the conflation of Chinese and Japanese elements into a “pan-Asian” design is something of a popular entertainment pet peeve of mine.

X-Force #1 (Marvel, $3.99)

  • XFORCE2014001-CvrStory: Si Spurrier
  • Art: Rock-He Kim
  • Publisher’s summary: Almost every sovereign state in the Marvel Universe makes use of sanctioned superhumans to protect national interests and pursue a covert agenda. The United States has the Secret Avengers. The United Kingdom has MI13. And mutantkind has X-FORCE. In this dirty, secret, no-holds-barred, deadly game of superhuman black ops, veteran X-Man Cable and his team will spy, torture, and kill to ensure that the mutant race not only has a place in the world…but also a stake in it.
  • NOTE: This comic was purchased by the reviewer.

Troy: I’ve always liked the X-Force concept of a more militant and pro-active team of mutants. The X-Force comic has had its ups and downs over the years (more downs than ups, to be honest), never really reaching the highs that it reached during Fabian Nicieza’s run on the book. Still, as a concept, it’s one that I am potentially more interested in than your bog-standard X-Men team. I really didn’t like the recent Cable and X-Force and Uncanny X-Force books, but with news of a new X-Force title coming, I was ready to give it a go once again.

I wasn’t all that excited about the creative team, though.

I like the concept that Spurrier is going for. We’ve seen throughout the Marvel Universe that the various governments have their own super-powered military or paramilitary forces, so it makes sense that the “mutant nation” would have its own in X-Force. The fact that the “mutant nation” has no established government, however, means that X-Force chooses its own missions, doesn’t really answer to anyone but team lead Cable, and isn’t subject to the set of checks and balances that would normally restrict the use of lethal force. These are points which I hope Spurrier tackles in future issues, but I may not hang around long enough to see him do it.

I don’t like Fantomex.

I never have. I’ve always found him to be annoying and Spurrier does nothing but make him even more annoying, if such a thing were possible. Incredibly annoying. Spurrier cannot pull off the suave cockiness that Fantomex’s fans are convinced is his main draw. He just comes across as juvenile in this issue. Psylocke is another character that doesn’t feel right under Spurrier’s pen (keyboard?). She comes across as lacking in self-confidence and there’s none of the usual “Betsy Braddock Ice Queen” the way she’s written here.

The rest of the small cast is fine, except what is going on with Marrow? She’s not supposed to have powers but is wearing an inhibitor that she can’t touch without Cable’s okay? Huh?

The pacing of the issue was off as well. Is the opening sequence a flashback?  A “flashforward”?  It’s never fully explained where and when that takes place.

All in all this was not a strong introduction to the book.  I like the concept Spurrier is shooting for, but so far the execution isn’t working for me.

Revenge #1 (of 4; Image Comics, $2.99)

  • Revenge01-pg0Story: Jonathan Ross
  • Illustrations: Ian Churchill
  • Colors: Arif Prianto with Ian Churchill
  • Publisher’s summary: Griffin Franks was a joke in Hollywood. A washed up action-hero. Over the hill. Past it. A has-been. A barely-was. But now he IS The Revenger. He’s a star. His movie’s a hit. His latest wife is hot. He finally has everything he wants. Just in time for someone to take it all away. Forever. Starting with his face.

Zedric: Originally solicited with the title The Revenger, Jonathan Ross and Ian Churchill’s Revenge is a violent satirical takedown of the movie star set.

Protagonist Griffin Franks is a send-up of the Hollywood action movie hero who refuses to age gracefully and loosen his weakening hold on fame and youth-obsessed celebrity. The type is someone just about anybody who has stood in line to pay for groceries, tabloids filling their field of vision, is at least marginally familiar with: sexuagenarians and septuagenarians with unnaturally defined pharmaceutically-enhanced physiques, bearing inhumanly smooth, wrinkle-free visages courtesy of Botox and plastic surgery, sporting a combination of clever combing and hair implants waging a losing battle against time and sensible fashion, the current trophy wife or girlfriend young enough to be their granddaughter on hand. It’s low-hanging fruit to be sure, but who am I to tell Ross and Churchill not to take aim at a target so ripe for mean-spirited satire?

Franks’ vanity eventually leads him to undergo a shady plastic surgery procedure in Mexico, where he is dealt an ironically gruesome fate via a double-cross. Submachine gun in hand, the now-disfigured and deranged Franks sets out to exact lethal reprisal from those who betrayed him. It’s classic Vault of Horror-style horror-comedy updated for the TMZ Age. I do wonder if the gasps and guffaws will be played out long before the four-issue miniseries reaches its conclusion, even with Churchill’s appropriately gory art providing an engrossing visual backdrop—Revenge isn’t exactly built on the most substantial of narrative premises and it seems to me like the type of comic that could have been boiled down for an anthology presentation—but if nothing else, it looks like it should be a fun distraction for as long as it lasts.

The Adventures of Apocalypse Al #1 (of 4; Image Comics, $2.99)

  • apocalypse-al-01Story: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Illustrations: Sid Kotian
  • Colors: Bill Farmer
  • Publisher’s summary: Alison Carter is a private detective. Her beat: the end of the world, or more accurately, preventing same. With an attitude of “shoot first and the hell with the questions,” she leads a life that would drive other investigators mad, filled with monsters, demons, trolls, mad prophets, zombie detectives, techno-wizards, machinegun toting imps, and dead boyfriends. In the first action-packed installment of this new universe, Al is given her biggest assignment ever, one that will take her into the heart of Ultimate Darkness itself. The first of a four-issue miniseries, this issue contains 30 pages of story, unbroken by advertisements.

Troy: I wasn’t sure what to make of this series when it was announced.  It sounded interesting enough and while Straczynski’s comics work is hit-or-miss for me, I have enjoyed what I’ve previously seen of Sid Kotian’s work, so figured it was worth checking out.

Thirty pages later and I’m still not sure what to make of this.

I can’t tell what tone Straczynski is going for. There’s some humor to this, but it’s very campy humor that grates after a while (especially the “Ultimate Darkness” close-up gimmick). It’s all too wordy, too, so many word balloons to wade through with little narrative payoff and the primary conflict is resolved too easily.

Al is an interesting lead, though, and while there are some blatant cheesecake elements to the art—Al leaving her house in a nightie and panties with just an open coat to keep her warm, for example—Kotian doesn’t go overboard with it when he very easily could have.

All that being said, The Adventures of Apocalypse Al doesn’t really demand a lot of the reader: It’s a four-issue miniseries, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s sufficiently entertaining  that I might as well read it through to the end.

Click here to read Part Two of our comprehensive look at the #1s of February 2014
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