Best Shots Extra: BUCK ROGERS ANNUAL, MAGUS #2

Matt Brady Returns with BUCK ROGERS

Matt Brady Returns with BUCK ROGERS
Matt Brady Returns with BUCK ROGERS
 

Buck Rogers Annual #1

Written by Matt Brady and Troy Brownfield

Art by Carlos Rafael and Carlos Lopez

Lettering by Simon Bowland

Published by Dynamite Entertainment

Review by David Pepose

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I won't lie. I was afraid to read this book.

There's a lot of reasons I shouldn't have read the Buck Rogers Annual. If it wasn't for Troy Brownfield, I wouldn't be writing for this site, let alone taking over the review team. And if it wasn't for Matt Brady, well, this site wouldn't be here at all. So if I read this book and loved it, wouldn't people think I'm just pandering to my former bosses?

And then another, scarier thought hit me: What if I hated this book? What if it totally sucks, and I have to be the one to break it to these guys... in public? Suddenly, I'm in between a rock and a hard place -- if I dig the book, people might think I'm shilling for a friend. If I hate the book, then I suddenly lose a couple people from the Christmas card list, if you know what I mean.

But in the end, I had to read the book, and damn the consequences. So I'll lay it to you straight: I'm glad I read the Buck Rogers Annual.

Not because I owe Troy my job -- pssh, he can't take it back -- and not because I respect the hell out of Matt Brady. But because, no matter who's name is on the cover, this is just a damned solid comic book. (And I am relieved to say that, and actually believe it.) Even if you've never read an issue of Buck Rogers before -- guilty as charged -- there's enough character to bring you in, and it's clear that this team knows how to play up comic book structure to the hilt. And they should -- they've read enough of the damn things.

Something that was interesting to me, reading this book -- there's a real voice to it. That's a quality that a lot of other books on the stands don't have, and it's apparent from page one. "Big things start small. It's a fact," Buck says. "Newton naps under an apple tree and we discover gravity. Ben Franklin with a kite leads to Edison." Buck is a bit of a smartass, but it's not over-the-top -- and combined with Carlos Rafael's superheroic artwork, the styles merge together particularly well. But the real draw of this book is the fact that Buck has a problem -- a personal, emotional problem, stemming from his fall through the timestream -- and here, he fixes it. It's compelling stuff.

I'll also give Dynamite some applause, because the art here is pretty strong, especially considering the fact that it's an annual with two comparatively untested writers. Carlos Rafael is really clear with his linework, that's got that old-school superhero thickness to it. While Buck's suit is a little weird with the musculature -- something that could be attributable to colorist Carlos Lopez just as much as him -- I really enjoyed the expressiveness he gave characters, particularly when he wasn't trying to. Buck has a nice design to him, that arch of the eyebrow when he answers the vidscreen, or the look on his face when he finally gets one last goodbye.

Now, as much as I love the guys, I wouldn't hand out Eisners just yet. The sad part of this book is just the typos present -- there's a couple of big ones that throw you off a bit, and it's a shame that Dynamite didn't give this book another pass. There are a couple of other blips here, as well -- sometimes one joke too many in a few scenes, and the action at the end does fizzle a little toward the end, likely owing to the spotlight being on Buck more than the villains. But you know what? Action is fixable -- character isn't.

As far as standalone, one-shots go, Brownfield and Brady have delivered the goods -- this is a story about a character letting go of the past, and finally moving on. With some fun (and funny) writing clicking with some solid, stylish artwork, this is the best birthday present Buck Rogers could get.

 

Magus #2

Written by John Price

Art by Rebekah Isaacs and Charlie Kirchoff

Lettering by Ed Dukeshire

Published by 12 Gauge Comics

Review by Scott Cederlund

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Click here to read the full Magus #1

“Where were you when magic came back?” is a great tagline for this series.  There’s so much implied by that one tiny sentence.  Magic was once around but disappeared.  It’s making a comeback.  And best yet, you’re at the center of it.  You’re involved with magic coming back into this world.  John Price’s Magus #2 puts you there, in the middle of magic returning to the world.  This issue reveals and explains a centuries old conspiracy about the disappearance of magic and the Guardians, a secret sect that has always been around and been vigilant about the return of magic.  And all the signs point to today as being the time when it makes its full-blown comeback, all centered around one kid.  But what happens when the Guardians pick the wrong kid to try and protect?

Price writes a quick, fast paced issue.  While the first issue concentrated on a small group of people, Magus #2 reveals the true scope of their story, as the story builds around from the characters we found in the first issue, carry all the way to the White House with the President and his wife and carry it back to the beginning of time.  But as he creates the vast backdrop for Magus, he rushes through the story, building events and history while brushing past the characters.  We hardly know the two main characters at the crux of magic’s return even as we have to assume that they are starting the fight of their life.  He does give one nice moment for one character, as we get a good glimpse into his imagination of what he can do and then a few pages later we see just what he really is or isn’t capable of.  We see his wishes and desires and learn something about the character and how he pictures himself or how he wants to be.  It would have been nice to get a bit more insight into some of the other characters as well.  Price’s rush through the story worked well for the first issue but continuing that pace into the second issue without taking the time to really build up the main characters produces an interesting conspiracy with almost no characters to really latch onto. 

While the story may not stress characterization too strongly, Rebekah Isaacs’ artwork nicely captures the characters through their expressions.  You can learn a lot about the characters through the little bits that the writers give you and lot with the confidence that Isaac draws them with.  So much of the story in this issue has to be told through character’s faces so Isaac has to pull that off and she does a fine job on that.  She draws nice and expressive eyes that help carry you through the story.

Magus #2 gets down to business, explaining the history that Price needs for his story.  While this issue gets a bogged down in exposition and building a mystery, mostly at the cost of building characters, Price and Isaac have created an interesting and fun conspiracy-laden comic.

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