August is a hot month here, so it needs equally hot comics to keep me from my arch nemesis…the sun. Fortunately, this week has some stuff I’ve been waiting on as Predator makes due without killing Gary Busey while the team of Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins make me tolerate kids in Black Badge.

Predator: Hunters II

 

 

Writer: Chris Warner

Art: Agustin Padilla

Colorist: Neeraj Menon

Letters: Michael Heisler

Published by: Dark Horse Comics

 

In Predator: Hunters from Dark Horse, readers were introduced to a team of mercenaries paid to take on the galaxy’s most dangerous hunters, the alien race known as Predators. The end of the first series saw that team decimated and this sequel sees the pieces of that team asked to go to war once again with the same alien race that torso capitated Gary Busey.

With the Predators drawn to heat and violent conflicts, perhaps no setting would be better than the deserts of Afghanistan in a war between America, National Police, and Isis terrorists. Oddly, that’s really all you can say about the plot the opening issue lays down.

This sci-fi franchise has never been particularly good at storytelling but excelled in delivering memorable moments and one-liners from “that ain’t no man” to Arnold pinning someone to a cork board with a hunting knife and saying “stick around”. Unfortunately, Hunters II doesn’t up the franchise’s storytelling. There’s a lot of promise in issue one but by the final page, that’s really all you’re left with. Outside of the opening decapatation, the stakes aren’t set very high for any character or the setting in these pages. We’re introduced to human characters we don’t have much reason to either love or hate and the most that really happens to them in the issue is boarding a military plane headed for Afghanistan.

There’s also an odd pacing between scenes as though it was written with commercial breaks in mind that seem to just dump you into the next thing instead of smoothly transitioning into a new scene.

Had the series dropped me in the middle of some of its upcoming action and allowed everything to unfold naturally rather than spend an entire issue in setup mode, I’d have been satisfied. The real estate is simply wasted if you can’t make characters compelling or put more action in since you’re making a comic that makes its money off fanatical fans of blood, bullets, and blades. If issue one is the trajectory of the series journey, it needs a Pina Colada Bang Energy Drink, now.

Black Badge #1

 

 

Writer: Matt Kindt

Artist: Tyler Jenkins

Colorist: Hilary Jenkins

Letterer: Jim Campbell

Published by: BOOM! Studios

 

 

The team of Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT) and Tyler Jenkins who brought readers the acclaimed Grass Kings series is back with a new tale of scout spies and smores in Black Badge. As an elite part of the Boy Scouts, Black Badges are a secret group of young boys tasked by the government to infiltrate and carry out missions adults never could.

There’s a brilliance in how the first issue carries out its necessary exposition, it simply lets readers see what these black ops cubs are here to do. In issue one, we meet four such scouts. Overeagerger to prove himself newcomer Willy, the muscle of the group Cliff, a squeaky kid named mitz, and the team’s leader Kenny.  These Black Badges infiltrate a North Korean weapons camp in order to carry out what they believe is a rescue mission. When they don’t see the anticipated outcome at the end of the mission, it fills the audience in on what this series could be about; government mistrust, espionage, and rebellion.

If it isn’t about that, then Black Badge has one serious problem. The series pitch was about this group of kids who feel as though they have to fix the world adults have ruined. A catchy advertisement for the series, yes. But why are these kids taking part in government operations if they’re already supposed to be disenchanted with their superiors mission? Only one of these characters feels like they have a hidden agenda in the opening and even that could have been a bit clearer.

Black Badge #1 is the beginning of a great series that isn’t quite great yet. These pages have the necessary intrigue, Tyler Jenkins charming art, and a hook for its long-term, though part of the book feels like it went away from its own sales pitch. Overall, Black Badge has more than enough going for it to earn a spot on your pull list.

 

Here’s The Rest of This Week’s #1 in handy quotes for publishers:

ASSASSINS CREED CONSPIRACIES #1 (Titan)
(W) Guillaume Dorison (A/CA) Jean-Baptiste Hostache
This book does what I’d like the game series to do, explore a WWII setting…and it does it superbly.

BEAST HUNTER X #1
(W) Mike Wolfer (A) Demi Mandir (CA) Rich Bonk
All sorts of supernatural creatures fight while something hunts their own. Balance between all its elements isn’t great at times but the entertaining bits are tantalizing.

FANTASTIC FOUR #1 (Marvel)
(W) Dan Slott (A) Skottie Young, Simone Bianchi, Sara Pichelli

SANDMAN UNIVERSE #1 (DC)
W) Si Spurrier, Nalo Hopkinson, Kat Howard, Dan Watters (A) Bilquis Evely, Dominike “Domo” Stanton, Tom Fowler, Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara

SHEENA #1 (DYNAMITE)
(W) Marguerite Bennett, Christina Trujillo (A) Moritat, Dimi Macheras
It’s like Bennett took the plot of a bad Skinemax movie and made it watchable. A good read but those traditionalist fans of the character for strictly boob reasons may not like this.

SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 (Marvel)
(W) Bryan Edward Hill (A) Nelson Blake Ii, Ryan Benjamin

HEY KIDS COMICS #1 (Image)
(W) Howard Chaykin (A) Howard Chaykin (CA) Don Cameron
An almost too real depiction of what the early days of the comics industry were like, Chaykin is all too comfortable here and I can’t wait to read more.

BLASTOSAURUS #1 (Golden Apple Books)
(W) Richard Fairgray, Paul Eiding (A/CA) Richard Fairgray
Feels a bit reaching for Savage Dragon but with a more popcorn action movie feel. Ultimately it feels like junk food I want to put back in the cupboard.

DINOSAUCERS #1 (Lion Forge)
W) Michael Uslan (A/CA) Andrew Pepoy
Dinosaurs who destroyed their planet want ours. It’s a B-movie plot that embraces that skid to the point of enjoyment. Definitely worth a look.

HOT LUNCH SPECIAL #1 (Aftershock Comics)
W) Eliot Rahal (A) Jorge Fornes (CA) Robert Hack
Everything you wanted out of that Tom Hardy gangster movie where he played twin brothers.

LUCKY MAN BRACELET CHRONICLES #1 (T Pub)
W) Neil Gibson, Michael Gordon (A) Atula Siriwardane, Ellie Wright (CA) Vince Sunico
I don’t want to say anything about something with Stan Lee’s name on it but this book is an onion dumpster.

NORAH #1 (Source Point Press)
W) Kasey Pierce (A) Sean Seal
A woman who likes to invade the minds of coma patients seems seedy but this book puts together such a compelling argument that will hook you.

ODDWELL #1 (Starburns Industries Press)
(W) David A Clarke, Walter A Bryant iii (A/CA) Acacia A Rodarte
A bit too hand-holding at times, even for a kids book, but it has enough charm to this story that I’d like to see more of it.

RIPTIDE #1 (Red 5 Comics)
(W) Scott Chitwood (A) Danny Luckert

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