Best Shots Advance: INVINCIBLE #100, HYRULE HISTORIA, More
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Ryan Ottley, Cliff Rathburn, and John Rauch
Lettering by Rus Wooten
Published by Image Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
There's a handful of original comics that debuted in the past 15 years that have reached the 100-issue mark, and Invincible now joins those elite few. Mark Grayson has not had the easiest time getting here, either, and things are only about to get more complicated.
The first shot of the issue is quite the teaser. With the cliffhanger from the previous issue, it looks like Mark's head is about to squished like a grape by Dinosaurus. Is that what really happens? Well, without giving too much away, I feel the issue spent too much trying to come up with a logical explanation. Yes, villains ramble in comics, but this just holds the issue back the more character-driven events later on in the issue from happening. It feels heavy and weighted and slows the story's pace to an almost grinding halt in the middle of the book.
Not taking anything away from Kirkman, though, he did the best he could here. True, he painted himself into a corner and there were only a few ways out, but all of them messy. He does wrap everything up in a nice, bloody bow so the next arc can start, but by the time you get the last page, you can almost see what's coming next. Mind you, the next move Kirkman is a smart one, and as Eve has been down this road before it'll be interesting to see how Mark handles it for the first time.
The art department clearly saves this issue here with the trifecta of Ryan Ottley, inker Cliff Rathburn, and colorist John Rauch. While we've seen Ottley and Rathburn in the fold for a while, I'm new to Rauch's colors over this world. It feels as though it has more depth to it this time around. Even in the simpler of panels, it just looks brighter and more sophisticated looking. Ottley still holds up as a great cartoonist with his range of facial expressions. The panel of the book especially is a good call. Put in the fact that Ottley and company handle a range of disasters, out-of-this-world sci-fi tech, and the almost grindhouse type of violence that Invincible is known for and you've got a great looking book. The artificial moon especially is a nice touch.
While Invincible #100 might not be the issue fans were expecting, it does continue the tradition of being one of most solid superhero titles out there outside of the Big Two. There's a huge chunk of this issue that could have been trimmed, but any indie book that reaches this milestone always gives reason to celebrate.
Written by Chuck Dixon
Art by Francis Nuguit and Nicolas Chapuis
Lettering by Bill Tortolini
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10
With the recent release of the final volume of The Wheel of Time, I thought I'd check back with the comic adaptation to see if things have improved since my last visit. Sadly, things are pretty much the same and I'm left disappointed yet again.
The issue here primarily serves as Lan's backstory as the last of the Malkieri Lords and their continuing journey to Tar Valon to heal Mat. We see the first spark of Lan and Nynaeve beginning to form, as well as Egwene's dedication to be an Aes Sedai. Now, this is all well and good and it's a treat to see on the page, but I still feel as though there could be more improvements in the presentation.
Contemporary comic legend Chuck Dixon handles the script fine, but it's in this issue I really don't think the narration from the novel itself is necessary. I've been able to tolerate before, but when the visuals are right there in front of you, an insert about what Rand is doing while we see him doing it just seems a tad clunky. Dixon does a great job with the page breakdowns and giving us some solid action using Lan's history with utilizing the bits from the novel itself properly, and you get a good sense of who Lan is.
The rest of the issue sort of just trots along with heavy dialogue — fans of the series can attest to the wordiness of it all — with an ending that just seems flat. It was a weird place to end on, but understanding there's already so much book to cover you can put so much here and there without overbearing your reader. At the same time, the pacing feels weighed, but that's mainly because of the art department here. Artist Francis Nuguit and colorist Nicolas Chapuis have a good grasp on trying to keep the story as exciting as possible, or that's the way it seems with how Lan's backstory is handled. That's the strongest scene in the issue, and from there, it's just odd angles and perspectives.
Most of the time, the characters look stiff and boarded and just at unease. Especially Mat, who, even though is still sick from the dagger he picked up, was still pretty jovial and a bit looser. While they did get the job done technically, a small list was running through my mind on who could have handled this a bit better.
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Review by Seth Robison
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
The Legend of Zelda was not the first work of fiction to feature a boy hero fighting a great evil to save a princess, but it has been one of the most enduring and popular, adapting the ‘monomyth’ formula over a dozen times into best-sellers as gaming technology evolved around it. Now, a little over twenty-five years after the ‘Legend’ began, Nintendo and Dark Horse Comics bring to the English-speaking world Zelda: Hyrule Historia, a nearly three hundred page tome that stitches together the history of one of gaming’s most legendary franchises in the worlds both real and fictional.
After an introduction and lesson about the original game’s pre-history by hall of fame developer Shigeru Miyamoto (Super Mario Bros.). Zelda: Hyrule Historia is divided up into three major sections, the first of which functions largely as the art book for the series’ latest release, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. In addition to including such video game artwork standards as sketches of character evolutions and concept art, special attention is placed on circumstances where the game’s artists and developers worked in details and references to Zelda games that while having already been produced, haven’t happened yet from the perspective of Skyward Sword, which was announced as the first Zelda game chronologically.
That fact alone separates this section from most other gaming artbooks, as even those who hadn’t played this latest game or have a deep seeded interest in the process of a game’s visual development can pick up on the once hidden details and ponder if they were planned years in advance purposely or merely aligned retroactively.
The second section is where it is proven that after almost three decades of speculation on the history of the Zelda world; it would be safe to say that nobody had it completely right. Broken down by eras rather than specifically enumerated years, each is highlighted by the Zelda game that came to highlight it. After Skyward Sword and the appearance of a couple of titles that come earlier in the canon than expected (and a couple of notable absences), the time-travel events of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time throw the doors open to convolution.
Credit has to be given though, as Zelda: Hyrule Historia does its best to explain how the composite history of its world works, even to the uninitiated, with a page detailing how to read its complicated timeline. Notes on how different events fit together and side notes point out key secondary elements of the individual games that help provide context.
The final third takes the reader back though the history of the gaming franchise in the order they were published with a hundred pages of development documents , notes about characters, translation keys to the different in-game alphabets and both concept and production art, some of which graced only twenty-plus year old instruction manuals and out of print game guides. Each game in the series is given at least a call out, including rare titles available only through special circumstances and obsolete technology, but notably not the infamous licensed, non-Nintendo produced Philips CD-I Zelda titles.
As a bonus, the book ends with a thirty two page, partially full color Zelda prequel manga that takes place even earlier in the franchise canon than Skyward Sword that is a little more than garnish to the legend. Its story, confusing beyond the usual level of difficulty that western readers unfamiliar with not only the layout but the style of storytelling found in Japanese comics, adds little to the overall package.
The book’s heavy tilt toward providing information pertaining to just Skyward Sword might be a turn off to those fans not enamored with it or some of more recent entries into the series, but Zelda: Hyrule Historia’s wealth of information about the franchise as a whole will trigger waves of nostalgia in its readers and storms of debate about the construction of the timeline.
Perfect for Zelda fans and appealing to gaming historians, Zelda: Hyrule Historia is a shelf worthy piece of non-fiction about a great fiction.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!