This week’s main reviews are the excellent finale, Enfield Gang Massacre #6, and the less excellent Rebel Moon comic tie-in, Rebel Moon: House of the Bloodaxe #1Plus, 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!

Enfield Gang Massacre #6Enfield Gang Massacre #6

Writer: Christopher Condon
Artist/Letterer: Jacob Phillips
Color Assists: Pip Martin
Publisher: Image Comics

Review by Sean Dillon

When I was a kid, one of my favorite short stories of all time was An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. I was introduced to the story by the Twilight Zone adaptation of it. (Which, I didn’t realize at the time, was actually a French short film adapting the story. Twilight Zone used to have a lot of Westerns on it, but I digress.) As such, I have a fondness for stories that emulate the narrative. Especially when they do it as well as the final issue of The Enfield Gang Massacre.
At the heart of Enfield Gang Massacre #6 is an execution. Like many of the Westerns I watched in my youth, it’s an extremely beautiful depiction of the cruelest of actions. The colors of Jacob Philips and Pip Martin highlight the cruel warmth of the town as they all cheer for the brutal act of what Tarantino refers to as “Frontier Justice.” (Which is just a more pleasant term for murder.) At the same time, they work in tandem to paint a melancholic dream for a life that will never be. (I especially liked the opening sequence looking at the ever perennial West Mitten Butte zooming out to reveal it to be from the view of a prison cell.) Where the original Occurrence focused on the escape, Chris Condon opts to instead look at the inevitability of their fate. A dark rider was always going to come for them. There was no happy ending to be found.
Still, the cruelty of the ending in Enfield Gang Massacre #6 is as palpable as it is apt. At least, if you leave things to the old west, where the cowboys lie dead from a hangman’s noose. History has a funny way of not stopping, even after all the players are dead and their lies engraved in stone. Though we may not live to see the futures we dream about, though death takes us all in the end, the future keeps marching on. Ain’t no way of stopping it.

Rebel Moon comicRebel Moon: House of the Bloodaxe #1

Story by Zack Snyder
Written by Magdalene Visaggio
Art by Clark Bint
Colors by Sabrine Del Grosso and Francesco Segala
Letters by Andworld Design’s Jame

Review by Jordan Jennings

Rebel Moon: House of the Bloodaxe #1 serves as a prequel to the latest Zack Snyder film—Rebel Moon. It is set 5 years prior to the film and details the history of two of the film’s protagonists, Devra and Darrian Bloodaxe, and how they came to be members of the rebellion. The comic itself is set following of the death of Amirami, matron of the Bloodaxe family, and in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of the Imperium royal family and the accension of Emperor Balisarius. 

I am going to be blunt. This comic was a lot. While Magdalene Visaggio is not my favorite writer, her work is usually a tighter product. The problem at hand is that House of the Bloodaxe has to do the heavy lifting of establishing a world and introducing concepts essential to the film property but still squeeze it all into one single issue. To do this, Visaggio leans heavily on narration captions and a lot of text. A lot. The exposition via dialog is fine but the narration doesn’t do much but confuse. It reads poorly and gave me a headache. 

The art by Clark Bint is serviceable. The page compositions are fine but there is a struggle with conveying emotion all while staying on model for the actors. The designs are pretty neat and I am a sucker for this style of sci-fi, but with the focus of the issue being on talking heads and mourning the death of loved ones, Bint’s difficulty with expression lessens the impact of the story. The colors Sabrine Del Grosso (flats) and Francesco Segala (colors) do a decent job in aligning with the overall vision of a Zack Snyder film. That does mean a lot of earth tones, but they do some neat stuff with color to make emotional impacts hit better and compensate for the struggles in the line work. 

The last thing about the comic that was puzzling was the decision to include the alien language and translation of that language in the text balloons. I feel like that was an attempt to build the world in a cinematic sense, but it fails to understand how difficult that can be on the printed page. There’s a reason most comics opt to bracket the speech to denote it’s a different language and provide an editor’s note that its translated. The side-effect of this decision is that there are pages with speech balloons that are massive in size. The letterer Jame tries their best to make this work, but it is a baffling choice. 

I cannot recommend this comic in good faith. There is a decent sci-fi story in here but it’s buried in bizarre choices and poor decisions that it makes for a headache to read. Skip this one.

Wednesday Comics Reviews

  • Cobra Commander #1 (Image Comics/Skybound): If you are a fan of G.I. Joe: The Movie, you will be very pleasantly surprised by what Joshua Williamson, Andrea Milana, Annalisa Leoni and Rus Wooton have cooked up here in Cobra Commander #1. And by G.I. Joe: The Movie, I mean the animated movie from the 1980s. Cobra Commander is a love letter to the 80’s G.I. Joe: The Movie. We get Cobra Commander’s origin here in 30 pages. While this is the first issue of a five issue miniseries, we get a full story here. Milana and Williamson paced this story so that it’s neither padded or slow. This isn’t an issue written for a trade. This is high energy, fast paced intro to the origins of Cobra’s supreme leader. And it ties in directly to what is going on Daniel Warren Johnson’s excellent Transformers. Rating – BUY! – Billy Henehan
  • Sonic The Hedgehog: Fang The Hunter #1 (IDW Publishing): As the main title takes a break, Sonic fans won’t be left wanting as Fang the Hunter kicks off another entertaining min-series featuring the titular Fang and his crew as they go off to seek their fortune and prove to Sonic their status as proper rivals. Ian Flynn continues to be a driving force behind the creative storytelling available with the Sonic characters, and this issue is no different in how Fang, Bean, and Bark have personality and goals related to their mission. Pencils from Mauro Fonseca, inks from Rik Mack, and colors from Valentina Pinto bring the different video game locations to life in a way that only works on the page, with each panel offering fluid, comedic action that leaves you wanting more. With letters from Shawn Lee, sound effects readers might obviously associate with Sonic had they played his games will be easily identifiable and make the reading experience that much more fun in a way many have come to expect from this line of books. —Bryan Reheil
  • The Weatherman, Vol. 3 #1 (Image Comics): This issue marks the beginning of the conclusion to The Weatherman series. If you haven’t been following, this issue might leave you with some questions but, it’s definitely worth going and visiting the previous two volumes! Writer Jody Leheup and artist Nathan Fox spend this issue exploring who Ian Black is. Not Nathan. This time we actually get to see the man that everyone wants dead and we explore the trauma of being a soldier and the way that can affect one’s worldview. This first issue calls into question what Ian’s place is within the machinations of the Sword of God as Leheup explores the timeline of events that got everyone to where they are now. Fox’s art has only gotten better as the series has gone on and the strength of the expressions, and character work continue to shine as we move from one location to the next. Colorist Moreno Dinisio makes the art that much more compelling with popping saturated colors to playing in more muted tones; the choice of palettes are great. Everything is tied together with Steve Wands’ lettering. One of my favorite things is how the sound effects just feel like such a natural extension of the artwork. All of these pieces make a first issue that is beautiful and at times haunting to take in. —Khalid Johnson

The Prog Report

  • 2000AD Prog 2365 (Rebellion Publishing): I usually don’t write about the same story two weeks in a row here, but Judge Dredd: A Better World is off to such a strong start, I think it merits it. Through two chapters, this is essentially a meditation on questions of police funding and reform filtered through a Judge Dredd lens, inflating all the matters at hand to the extreme. There’s no better character to do this, and in many ways, this feels like a story Judge Dredd is uniquely suited to take on. What’s very exciting to me is that it feels like we’re still in the setup phase, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store when everything accelerates. Judge Dredd: A Better World is written by Rob Williams and Arthur Wyatt, with art by Henry Flint, and letters by Annie Parkhouse. As always, you can nab a copy of this week’s Prog here. —Zack Quaintance

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