ONE OR DONE is expanding like an appendix about to burst. With all the #1s that seem to drop every week in comics, it’s time to do more. From now on we’ll be reviewing MOST of, if not all, the week’s debuting comics. Every book will still be scored on our patented ONE OR DONE scale unofficially brought to you by Gatorade. This week we’ve got seven debuting comics and as you know from popular PlayStation podcasts, that is indeed a GD baker’s dozen!
For the rest of the DC Comics and Marvel #1’s check out the Beat’s other roundups.
WWE#1 (BOOM! STUDIOS) $3.99
Story: Dennis Hopeless, Ross Thibodeaux
Art: Serg Acuna, Rob Guillory
Colors: Doug Garbark, Taylor Wells
Letters: Jim Campbell
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Late last year, writer Dennis Hopeless gave us a taste of what we can expect from BOOM! Studios partnership with World Wrestling Entertainment and it made me want more. The official debut of the ongoing series continues to tell the evil Sith-like ascension of superstar Seth Rollins from mid card player to face of the company as WWE Heavyweight champion. The one-shot THEN.NOW.FOREVER#1 made it seem like the comics were written solely in “kayfabe”, the portrayal of events within the industry as real. This ongoing series’ debut feels like it can’t quite land on one side of the real/not-real fence. You’ll get a lot of the wacky “realism” of wrestling like the Shield barbecuing on top of a production truck on their off days, then it’ll take itself too seriously with backstage politics online wrestling bloggers love to report. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of good stuff in this book from Serg Acuna’s art. Much like the one-shot did, this is the right aesthetic tone to tell stories about people who beat each other up while wearing spandex on cable. Hopeless has some good Rollins being Rollins moments written in and hopefully, upcoming issues will balance the cast out more. The debut just zooms by too many things and never really gives the story breathing room. Give me more Ambrose being a lunatic or more Booman Reigns. It’s easily something which could be fixed in upcoming issues and if we’re being honest, I’ll probably keep buying the issues until I see he’s just going to ignore me. However, that New Day Backup story written by Thibodeaux and drawn by Rob Guillory could be worth the price of admission on its own in issue #1.
“ONE”- WWE#1 is the debut of a series I desperately wanted to enjoy. While it hasn’t completely earned a spot on my pull list, it does more than enough to get me to come back for issue #2.
REVOLUTIONARIES #1 (IDW) $3.99
Story: John Barber
Art: Fico Ossio
Colors: Sebastian Cheng
Letters: Tom B. Long
The Hasbroverse isn’t something I have a sentimental attachment to. IDW’s use of properties like Transformers, G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K, and now ROM have been individually more misses than hits. Bringing them all together in their own shared universe proved to inject a freshness into storytelling that had become stagnant among them. Revolutionaries deals with the fallout of the previous crossover series in which characters from all these franchises come together to battle a new scourge of menace called wraiths. The bigger challenge comes due to the fact that these new creatures are transformed humans. How do the greatest heroes of 80’s immagination protect life when it’s trying to kill them. What worried me most when diving into this series was not having finished all the previous crossover books. IDW covered that base by starting out with a Hasbroverse timeline which gives readers all the information they need from the books’ dawn of time till today. It’s an easy to comprehend primer which makes getting on board and excited by the junk food action of Revolutionaries easy. As debut comics go, which pick up from other series’, Revolutionaries covered its bases and did right by readers new and old.
“ONE”- Revolutionaries #1 is IDW’s best debut of the week and something anyone with a hard on for 80’s toys will enjoy.
ANGRY BIRDS COMICS GAME PLAY #1 (IDW) $3.99
Story: Tito Faraci, Francois Corteggiani, Janne Toriseva
Art: Giorgio Cavazzano, Antonello Dalena,
Colors: Digikore, Palo Daddaleni
Letters: Pisara Oy
The thing IDW did wrong this week? Trying to convince kids and comic book readers that Angry Birds is still something people play. Not only do these birds and pigs lack feet, they lack charm. This new chapter in the ongoing war between birds too fat to fly and ugly ass pigs starts out with a tale of the feathered friends learning martial arts from a book washed up on their island. Not something that couldn’t happen, right? With two additional stories; one about underwater submarines and the other concerning hats. Yep. As comics go, it just doesn’t feel like anything kids can get value out of and that’s who your targeting. IDW should go more the all-ages route with the book and not dumb things down soo much.
Overall this is just too basic for kids that want something more than pretty pictures. When you objectively review something you always have to ask yourself who exactly is the audience for this? When you look at who Angry Birds comics are aimed at, it’s hard to imagine they’d like it.
“DONE”- Angry Birds Comics Game Play #1 is thankfully something that only comes once every two months.
DIVINITY III: Aric #1 (Valiant) $3.99
Story: Joe Harris, Matt Kindt
Art: CAFU, Juan Jose Ryp
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Personally, I read Valiant’s titles quite selectively. While I enjoy X-O Manowar and Faith, Shadowman and Harbinger never clicked for me and have yet to give them a second chance. Admitedly, Divinity’s previous volumes are something I hadn’t even picked up since I remain skeptical about Valiant books which weren’t reboots of the 90’s comics. After reading Divinity III: Aric, it’s all now on my must read list. This one-shot tells the Stalinverse story of the Visigoth Aric landing on Earth. The twist being in this universe, he becomes the champion of the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin is this reality’s Thanos. In this one and done story written by Joe Harris, Russia’s X-O Manowar has to fend off an attack from a villain who can raise the dead killed by Stalin. The reprocussions reveal dark secrets of the communist nation which will be dealt with in the current Divinity mini-event. A good one-shot should be able to stand on its own and Harris’ story does just that, at the same time it lets the reader get drawn into the alternate history of the Stalinverse without the need for over done exposition. CAFU’s art is solid. The artist is consistently getting better and better with each new project after the Grifter run in the initial New 52. This book’s backup story by Matt Kindt and Juan Jose Ryp brings the value full circle. While the Valiant line of books as a whole is rollercoaster of hit-and-miss, this special is the best sales pitch for getting readers interested in Stalinverse.
“ONE”-DIVINITY: Aric, Son of the Revolution #1 is a rare example of what a one-shot comic should be. A good stand alone story, laced with a voluntary gateway to something else.
ADVENTURE TIME: Marshall Lee Spectacular (Comixology Originals/Kaboom)
Story: Mariko Tamaki, S.M. Vidaurri, Melanie Gillman
Art: Audrey Mok, Asia Kendrick-Horton, Trungles, S.M. Vidaurri
Colors: Laura Langston
Letters: Warren Montgomery
Cover: Fabio Moon
Fans of the hit cartoon Adventure Time will know Marshall Lee as the gender-swapped version of vampire king, Marceline. This special issue, available digitally as one of three books launching Comixology’s originals program, tells vignette-style stories about the character. Best of which “Not Funny” is written by Mariko Tamaki and drawn by Audrey Mok. The story tells the tale of a curse placed on Marshall by a mean talking pastry. Adventure Time has been something that appeals and audience beyond kids because its humor and wit aren’t dumbed down. Thankfully this special shares that philosophy. Fans will get more of the will they or won’t they flirtation between Marshall Lee and Fionna. You can’t say enough about Audrey Mok’s art for the particular story is a departure from what we’re accustom to in the Adventure Time universe blending a more pop comic style with manga flare. With everything this one-shot does right, it cannot convert people who have never seen the show or read the other quality books done by Boom!. This is one you’ll only get the most out of if you’re already versed in Adventure Time, the rest of you will be totally lost from all the references.
“DONE” ADVENTURE TIME: Marshall Lee Spectacular; if you’re subscribing to Comixology’s unlimited service this is something worth checking out, but as a stand alone and despite having very talented creators, it just doesn’t have legs to attract anyone without a cable subscription and that’s a big hindrance you can’t overlook.
BLACK HAMMER GIANT SIZED ANNUAL #1 (Dark Horse Comics) $5.99
Story: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dustin Nguyen, Matt Kindt, Mike Allred, Emi Lenox, Nate Powell, Ray Fawkes
Colors. Dave Stewart, Sharlene Kindt
Letters: Todd Klein
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Every month Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer is one of the best superhero comics around. Equal parts golden-age love letter and Twilight Zone episode, the series is about a group of heroes trapped in an alternate dimension farm they can’t escape. Usually, an annual issue is a reward for loyal readers in an extra-sized issue only they’ll be able to remember in a few years. Black Hammer Giant-Sized Annual is a star-studded SuperBowl commercial for a brand new TV show. Featuring talents like Dustin Nguyen and Emi Lenox, the book tells complete stories you can jump right into even having never read the series.
All of these stories are terrific but paramount among them is illustrted by Matt and Sharlene Kindt. Lemire and the duo tell the tale of Golden Age-esque street level vigilante Abraham Slam as his boxing match is interrupted by the invading alien. It’s the most fitting visual depature of the book and it all fits together so well.
“ONE”- BLACK HAMMER GIANT SIZED ANNUAL #1; if you’re willing to shell out for one of the most expensive comics of the week, you’ll be in store for the best exeperience of January.
KAMANDI CHALLENGE SPECIAL #1 (DC Comics) $7.99
All the Glory to: Jack Kirby
Additional Letter Glory to: Mike Royer, D. Bruce Berry
Collecting several of the classic Jack Kirby Kamandi comics this special is a warm up to the Kamandi Challenge where several of today’s top comic book creators will tell new stories about the last boy on earth. Here, DC reprints Kamandi #32 where he and his allies face an attack by gorilla commandos. This issue also includes the origin of the Last Boy on Earth from Kamandi #1, plus the map of Earth after the Great Disaster that inspired the upcoming challenge one-shots. There’s never a time where reading the Kirby classics gets old and it’s especially true here. Kamandi was something uncanny and special from a man who gave the world unique things for a living. The character had an energy about him that was different from Thor, New Gods, or any of his other creations. DC did a top job of picking out some of the best examples of what made the character special. My only issue with this is the price feels a bit greedy when you can probably find full collected volumes of the series for slightly more. As a one-shot, despite the high price, it gives you a good comic book story made out of bits and pieces of others. Even if you’ve never read Kamandi, give this a shot and the upcoming “challenge” issues will get added to your list.
“ONE” Kamandi Challenge Special #1 gets me jazzed for what’s coming next. Especially if DC comes through on the promise of it meaning something significant for the DCU forward. In this case, I’ll grudgingly give the publisher the high price asked even if that money goes to Dan DiDio’s mustache comb fund.