This week’s main review is Dick Tracy #1. Plus, the Wednesday Comics Team has its usual rundown of the new #1s, finales and other notable issues from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below … enjoy!

Dick Tracy #1Dick Tracy #1

Writers: Alex Segura & Michael Moreci
Artist: Geraldo Borges
Creative Consultant: Chantelle Aimee Osman
Colorist: Mark Englert
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios

Review by Bob Proehl

He’s older than Batman by eight years. He wears a screaming bright yellow trench coat rather than the shady moral code of your usual noir detective. He’s probably most familiar to modern audiences from the cartoon-come-to-life 1990 film adaptation where a lantern-jawed Warren Beatty faces off against a scenery-chewing Al Pacino, with Madonna delivering musical numbers by Stephen Sondheim.

(If, somehow, you missed this gem from the post-Batman Golden Age of comic book adaptation attempts, check it out immediately. This is a film where “hot” meets “mess,” I love it whole- and true-heartedly.)

This week, Dick Tracy makes his return to comics, written by Alex Segura and Michael Moreci, and drawn by Geraldo Borges.

In an era when these types of reboots tend to lean into making their characters “more complicated,” loading them up with backstory and pathos, the creative team here does an elegant job of introducing Tracy and his world, while setting the story hooks that will draw readers into the issue. Our fearless hero is a World War II vet and an up-and-comer on the police force. That’s all you know and all you need to know. The establishing shot of Dick Tracy in his iconic yellow trenchcoat and fedora gives us a hero whose visuals are as strong and recognizable as the cape-and-cowl set that followed him into the comics almost a decade later.

The issue’s violent opening sets the stakes for the series, killing off a classic supporting character in the early innings, while also serving up the opportunity to introduce Tess Trueheart, Tracy’s classic love interest, in a way that sets up her own story, independent from but inevitably entwined with Tracy’s. And fans of the old comics (or the movie) get just enough of a tease of Tracy’s bizarre rogue’s gallery to want more.

Borges’s art balances a thick-lined classic sensibility with grittier elements of more recent comics noir artists like Sean Phillips, a style that blends perfectly with the grounded realism of the writing, and fans of Alex Segura’s mystery novels will find a lot to like here. A great start to a much-anticipated book.

Universal Monsters: Creature From The Black Lagoon Lives!

Writers: Dan Watters, Ram V
Artist: Matthew Roberts
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: D.C. Hopkins
Publisher: Image Comics – Skybound

Review by Jordan Jennings

Reporter Kate Marsden, is on the trail of a suspected serial killer that leads her all the way into the Peruvian Amazon Jungle. Her quest brings her face-to-face with the Creature from the Black Lagoon. 

Creature From the Black Lagoon Lives! #1 is the latest licensed comic from Skybound studios and Universal Studios. The initiative pairs strong horror theme writers with classic Universal Monsters. This series picks up after the original Creature from Black Lagoon film. As for the story, both Dan Watters and Ram V bring a gritty detective type story that focuses on Kate Marsden, a reporter that is hunting down a serial killer. Watters and V put a lot of effort into Kate’s character, and it pays off. She is struggling with the fact she was nearly drowned by the same serial killer and yet she must be the one that takes him down. There isn’t a lot of the Creature in this comic, but that is par for course with most creature features. That said the plot and character work is compelling enough to hold the reader’s interest. 

Artist Matthew Roberts crafts an expressive story. His work with facial expression and body language does a lot of the heavy lifting of the story. There is a lot of focus on Kate and her internal trauma, and frustrations and Roberts has a way of bringing them to the panel. The story is well paced, and Roberts does a lot of novel layouts and paneling tricks to change the pace of the story to fit moments of drama, intrigue, and nightmare. One layout trick I enjoyed was the use of wavy panels to convey the water. It helps overcome one of the challenges of medium when it comes to immersing the reader into the scene. 

Creature From the Black Lagoon Lives! #1 is a fine comic and a solid start to a new miniseries that will delight fans of Universal Monsters. The story itself is effective in setting up the premise of the series and the art is dynamic and expressive to capture the reader’s attention.

Wednesday Comics Reviews

  • Duke #5 (Image Comics/Skybound): If you’re reading this, know the mission is over. The G.I. Joe origin story that establishes the Joes as part of Skybound’s Energon Universe line has been completed. Here at the finale, writer Joshua Williamson gets Duke to avenge his fallen friend without wiping the table clean– we’re just setting it for now. While not the blockbuster climax we’re used to with the Joes, Williamson uses a smaller conflict to bring an emotional end to this series while providing motivation for Duke’s movements after. The climax culminates in a beautifully vicious brawl where Tom Reilly uses a set of tightly stacked horizontal panels to deliver the force of movement. While Reilly is best known for his heavy brush inks and curated use of shadow, the subtlety of his shot composition and focus on expression rather than viscera really helped elevate an otherwise by-the-book action shlock. My fave panel by far is one where colorist Jordie Bellaire does a bangup job bruising Conrad’s face like he’s taken a beating while also keeping the page’s overall color mood a dreary blue for his last moments; a brilliant microcosm of what she’s brought to the series thus far. Also, not for nothing, Bellaire designs an entire scene around highlighting Scarlett’s single panel cameo by keeping the hospital a warm teal while lowering the saturation of skintones and bruises across the spread. Dope! Letterer Rus Wooton utilizes a fun trick to bring us into panels while not confusing reading order by staging balloons as part of the gutter bleeding in, then capping off the other balloons behind panel borders. This kind of simple and effective storytelling certainly reinforces Duke’s overall vibe, but also feels at home in a nostalgic series trying to bring new eyes and old eyes to its ardor. Let’s hope Team Duke runs it back. Otherwise, GO JOE! —Beau Q.
  • Operation Sunshine: Already Dead #1 (Dark Horse Comics): Henry Zebowski and Marcus Parks are back, writing the continuation of the four-issue run of “Operation Sunshine.” The “#1” here is a bit deceptive as we are thrown into the deep end and if you’re not familiar with these characters or where their journey has taken them to get to this point, it can be a bit disorienting and not quite accessible to new readers. As a continuation, we meet up with Hex and Darryl as Operation Sunshine is in effect and the pieces of the plan begin to come together. It plays well to the familiarities of heist narratives, moving us from one character and location to the next as they fall into place in order to execute their heist. David Rubin’s art paired with the colors of K.J. Diaz (flatted by Xulia Pison) absolutely stuns. The characters are expressive and have a great sense of weight thanks to the linework. There’s also a strong use of texture and wow does it make the environments come to life, especially with how Diaz uses light (there’s a hunting sequence early on that made me go “wow”.) It’s a fun book to look at and it’s fun to read, in no small part due to the letters of Ferran Delgado; the letters here are so fun in how they move through the panels and play off of each other as individual letters. —Khalid Johnson
  • Slash Presents Deathstalker – The Return of The Last Great Warrior King #1 (Vault Comics): I’d never heard of the Deathstalker character and while I’m aware of who Slash is, I’m by no means a super fan. All that said, I really enjoyed myself with Slash Presents Deathstalker – The Return of The Last Great Warrior King this week, an irreverent and well-paced fantasy comic that is, simply put, just a great time. Writer Tim Seeley strikes the perfect tone here, while artist Jim Terry lays out just the prefect gritty vision for a fantasy book like this one, his linework complimented well by Kurt Michael Russell’s colors and AndWorld Design’s letters. I found myself just absolutely tearing through this book, having a blast. Zack Quaintance
  • Spectegraph #1 (DSTLRY): Armed with the star creative team of writer James Tynion, artist Christian Ward, and letterer Aditya BidikarSpectagraph #1 has the feel of a big budget, spectacle of a book right from the jump, hitting readers at the start with big colors, rich folks, mysterious hooded (probable) cultists, and declarative sensationalisms like, “There is no such thing as ghosts. But there should be.” And from that opening, we step back a bit, but the colors remain as we segue into an interesting sort of haunted house ghost story, one that is unsurprisingly adept and polished, blending family drama with spooky imagery and a mystery to pull readers through. —Zack Quaintance

The Prog Report

  • 2000AD Prog 2379 (Rebellion Publishing): Man, there sure was a lot of good-looking art in this week’s Prog. It starts in the Judge Dredd: Rend & Tear With Tooth & Claw story, courtesy of RM Guera with colors by Giulia Brusco. They just make the snow look so savage. Then it continues into hell, with the visually impressive Aquila: The Rivers of Hades Book Two story, by artist Patrick Goddard and colorist Dylan Teague. It’s pretty standard hell imagery, but man do those hordes at war impress. Finally, the last flourish I found really impressive was the alien monster cartooning in the capper story, Proteus Vex – Devious by artist Jake Lynch and colorist Jim Boswell. Just great visuals throughout this issue, with a lot of variety between genres. As always, you can nab a digital copy of this week’s Prog here. —Zack Quaintance

Read more entries in the weekly Wednesday Comics reviews series!