Welcome to the all-new Comicscape! Each week we'll be taking a look at a few of the week's new books in hopes of informing your comic shop purchases, or at the very least giving you 4-color thrills and chills. Enjoy!
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven) I really liked the GOTA .1 issue from a few weeks back. It was a well told origin for a character that’s not so widely known. It was a humble beginning to a series that will literally reach for the stars. This first issue starts out well, but in the end doesn’t quite pull off the feat it’s trying to attempt. I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again- First issues need to be longer if the material demands it. This issue definitely demanded it. We start out with a cold open that really piques some interest, unfortunately the second half of the book centers around a very generic action scene. The opening plays to Bendis’ strengths—Peter Quill, aka Starlord, is trying to make time with a lovely Kree woman in a bar somewhere in the galaxy, until his father breaks in with important empiric matters. What Peter and the Kree woman are talking about is very suggestive, but they never come out and actually say it. I was completely expecting Bendis to circle around at the end of the scene, and show us we all have dirty minds, because they were actually talking about something else. But it never happens, and I was genuinely surprised. The dialogue between Peter and his father works, Peter’s love and connection to Earth is what defines him, and his distaste for his father’s empire is perfectly in line with that. From there we cut to Iron Man, who I am happy is in the book, but he’s literally tooling along in space when he runs into the not-so-nice Badoon, and the Guardians show up to pull his shiny new space-armor out of the fire. All the dialogue in this second half feels incredibly off for Bendis. It’s missing his usual effortlessness and polish. A good 10 or so more pages could have let the action vs the Badoon breathe, and given our characters space to open up. As it stands, things feel rushed, and they shouldn’t, not on a flagship title like Guardians. Even Steve McNiven’s art is better in the first half. He gets to fill in the bar with alien creatures, and give Peter and is father the proper emotions. The second half ends up getting a bit jumbled and unfocused. Here’s hoping issue #2 gets things on the right track.
B.P.R.D. Vampire #1 (By Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon and Mike Mignola) Besides having the two coolest sounding names in comics, twin brothers Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon are also two of the best artists working in the medium. You would think their styles would be similar, but they’re not. Fabio uses free flowing lines that twist and coalesce into expressive images, Gabriel favors hard edges and pitch black blocks of shadow to create striking images. Both have amazed previously on B.P.R.D. 1947, and now they are back to trade off panels and pages to continue the tale of the doomed Private Anders. Spending weeks adrift on a life raft in the Pacific during WWII, or being preyed upon by two voracious vampire succubi, only to have them enveloped into your very soul, will take its toll on a man. There’s a black mark on Simon Anders’ aura, a grim in the tea leaves, but he is no longer willing to play the victim. The vampires whose rites and rituals he witnessed haunt his dreams, and with Professor Broom unable to help him further, Anders departs the B.P.R.D., stake in hand, to seek vengeance. This issue is all setup, which can be tricky to get right in comics, but Gabriel, Fabio and Mike Mignola get the necessary tone note perfect. There is a sense of dread to the proceedings, and a muted, yet devil-may-care attitude from Anders, which makes his eventual confrontations with the vampires all the more exciting. There really is nothing like a good Hellboy book, and B.P.R.D. Vampire has started out in classic fashion.
Batman Incorporated #9 (by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham and Jason Masters) We’ve been reading all the fallout from the death of Damian Wayne for two weeks now in the other Bat books, now we finally get to see how Grant Morrison handles his own tale. As he is wont to do, Morrison gives us a time fractured narrative of what happened immediately proceeding Damian’s impalement, Gotham’s reaction to the Leviathan take over, and the rain-soaked funeral for the former Robin. There’s some nice moments in this issue- Ceryl taking on the mantle of the Knight, Bruce blaming Alfred for allowing Damian to leave the mansion, and telling the butler to take a leave of absence, but overall it has a bit on an in-between feel. It’s absolutely worth picking up, if for nothing else than to see the Heretic to get blasted by a tank, but it’s not the lyrical success of last issue. I also can’t help but think this is Morrison’s version of The Dark Knight Rises—Instead of Talia and Bane it’s Talia and the Heretic, both try to bring down Wayne Corp., both have Batman being alienated from his city, and both have Gotham under siege. Still very excited to see how this story wraps up.
Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.