Think Tank #5
Written by Matt Hawkins
Art by Rahsan Ekedal
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
In a lot of ways, I think Think Tank is like the Burn Notice of comics — it leads with its style and accessibility, giving us a smartass protagonist whose rogueish charm is second only to his ability to surprise us. In an industry that's traditionally heavy on action and light on heart, that's a tough line to toe, but Think Tank has the looks and the stakes to stand above the pack.
While this issue is largely setup after the first arc, writer Matt Hawkins manages to pique the reader's interest with one simple word: genetics. His protagonist, the sociopathic slacker-scientist Dr. David Loren, is a man with an idea — targeted genetic warfare. Why go for shrapnel and flames when you could just go for specific DNA? The exposition is enough to make you perk up, as Hawkins smartly doubles down on his last arc: this is far beyond the scope of drone robots. This storyline could affect the world.
But there is a human hook to all this, too — David. After the cliffhanger of the last issue, I was surprised to see Hawkins return to it so quickly, but he again scores points for unpredictability — the tone of this second arc is very different when it comes to our charming hero, and sharply brings him back into the fold after the last issue could have ended his story for good. The other X factor, of course, is while David does narrate to us, we're only privy to his thoughts on a surface level — we have no idea what his plans are, so when you're dealing with potential WMDs, that'll put you on edge.
But the real salesman for all this is Rahsan Ekedal. His sleek, cartoony work is exactly the kind of accessible artwork you want for a book that isn't also a licensed property. His characters are expressive, and his design for both the individual characters and their semi-futuristic technology looks absolutely superb. Ekedal is also the kind of artist that works well with black and white, instead of coming off listless or unfinished with the lack of color. Even though the action here is absolutely minimal, the opening sequence alone gives us a sense of scale and menace.
This book may not have the deepest message in the world, but when it moves this smoothly, does it have to? Think Tank is a low-key, stylish read, that friend of a friend who should probably hang out with a little more because they seem so darn cool. This is a book with a compelling lead, high stakes, clean visuals and a story that's easy to jump into. In other words, picking up Think Tank? Kind of a no-brainer.
Grimm Fairy Tales Myths and Legends #25
Written by Troy Brownfield and Raven Gregory
Art by Josh Hood and Jason Embury
Lettering by Jim Campbell
Published by Zenescope Comics
Review by Jeff Marsick
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
This is it, the final issue in the Myths and Legends line from Zenescope, the fourth chapter of "The Summoning" story whose ramifications will probably be felt in the greater company-wide event, "Unleashed," that debuts in April. After Venus's betrayal in the last issue, the Dark One now holds the Sunstone, which affords him command of the most powerful Highborn ever known, Helios. Problem is, the Dark One quickly figures out that command and control are two completely different concepts and it's up to Sela and Samantha to save the day. Settle in for a 40-page action-packed ride that never lets up and certainly ends the series with enough momentum to carry our omnipresent heroines forward into their next adventure defending the Grimm Universe.
Now, while I can appreciate the energy this issue had, even at 40 pages it feels rushed, bounding from action sequence to action sequence like a cricket on crack. Writer Troy Brownfield — a familiar voice here on Newsarama as well as being the former Best Shots head honcho — certainly knows how to script a compelling story, but "The Summoning" hasn't been as tight as his first arc, "Hansel and Gretel," and I think that's because there's too much to work with in too little space. He's got Baba Yaga and Venus in one corner, the Dark One and his posse in another and Sela and the Falsebloods (Zenescope needs to start a band with that name) in another, with Helios the Highborn in the middle. All that in four issues, which isn't enough space to really make this about character and less about spectacle.
Case in point: Helios is supposed to be the most powerful of the Highborn, the Grimm version of a fire elemental and a clear threat to all of humanity, yet all he actually does is torch a little bit of the Great Wall in China like a petulant six-year old with a puppy-dog crush. Some threat. No, "The Summoning" needed five, maybe even six issues to really fire on all cylinders.
It also needed more consistent artwork. Josh Hood is back for Issue #25, which is an improvement over the Saturday-morning-cartoon look of the two issues done by Tony Donley, but Mr. Hood's main weakness is the human form, which comes across as silly at all the wrong moments and actually works to deflate the drama. I'm actually surprised at how the combination of the occasionally awkward pencils with the heavy inks and too-bold colors give this book from a well-known publisher a self-pubbed indie vibe; the great cover sets up an expectation of something similar on the inside. Still, Mr Hood's action sequences and fight scenes aren't bad, and if he was allowed some bigger panels to flex his muscles, the effect would probably have been even more impressive.
The bad news is that it's over too fast. Which, actually, is something of a positive since it means that there's a lot here that deserved exploring. The good news is that the finale sets up something bigger and greater for Sela and Samantha, and the portent of the formation of a Justice League Dark for the Grimm Universe, which could be cool. It's not perfect, but it's nonetheless worth picking up to finish out the series.