Greetings, Rama readers! Time waits for no man, and especially doesn't wait for the Best Shots Review Team! We've got a handful of advance reviews for your reading pleasure, as well as a ton of back issue reviews at the Best Shots Topic Page. And now, let's get schooled by Amanda McDonald as she takes on Morning Glories #7...
Morning Glories #7
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Joe Eisma and Alex Solazzo
Lettering by Johnny Lowe
Published by Image Comics
Review by Amanda McDonald
As if this book wasn't already generating enough buzz, just one week after the $9.99 trade collecting issues one through six hits shelves, issue seven hits shelves tomorrow. As it should. Waiting between installments of this story is becoming one of my most dreaded tasks each month. If you aren't familiar with this book, now is the time to read that trade, and get on board with a series that has more mystery and intrigue than anything else I'm reading right now.
In the progression of the series, recent issues seem to be focusing less on the initial group of students that entered Morning Glories Academy at the same time, and more on their individual stories. This issue focuses on Zoe — her childhood, and the years immediately preceding her arrival at the academy. After a verbal altercation with Casey, Zoe meets up with Amanda, a cheerleader. Yes, the academy has cheerleaders and they are apparently less subject to the horrors of Ms. Daramount. It's been clear that Zoe is a bit edgy, but we learn from her back story that she has a LOT of baggage. However, we also see that she doesn't let it slow her down. This girl is messed up. And yet... likeable. Spencer has crafted a story for this character that shows her brutal side, while building up the instances of brutality as fairly justifiable. Oh, how I wish I could tell you why — but I'm not going to post spoilers in an advance review.
What I can tell you, is that this series has taken its already strong foundation, and turned everything up a notch. The administrators of the school are not the only ones in this series manipulating people, and Zoe (and recently Jade) are good examples of this. Nick Spencer seems to be one of those writers you just have to kind of sit back and trust. While I enjoy what's going on, I truly have no idea where it is going next — but I highly suspect he does and the continuity of the story so far has proven to come together at points, just enough to keep me wanting more and more.
Joe Eisma delivers yet another solid issue of art, and this issue is a chance for Alex Solazzo's color talents to really shine. The story cuts from Zoe's early childhood, to her previous school experience, to her current situation in every couple pages and each setting has its own distinct palette. I don't recommend you jump on at this issue, there's a lot of reference to previous events, and rather than a pleasant sense of mystery you'll find yourself frustratingly puzzled. However I cannot recommend enough that you do pick up the very affordable trade (if you haven't already) and this issue when you visit your LCS tomorrow. The series started strong, has gotten even better, and this most current issue paints one of our characters in a very new light and I cannot wait to see where it goes from here.
Queen Sonja #14
Written by Luke Lieberman
Art by Mel Rubi and Adriano Lucas
Lettering by Simon Bowland
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by David Pepose
Talk about walking the razor's edge — this issue of Queen Sonja, when it hits correctly, shows the potential of Dynamite's art stable. For me, I feel like a lot of the company's more viable ideas — case in point, Jennifer Blood or even Bring the Thunder — get hobbled by scratchy inker-free artwork.
So I have to give Mel Rubi some credit here — during the first half of this book, he's absolutely on fire, giving a clean, almost Dodson-esque line to Red Sonja's origin story, which goes a long way towards endearing you to the She-Devil with a Sword. And while the artwork does take a step towards the sketchy in the book's second half, first impressions are everything in this business — seeing Sonja's look of bemusement when she finally receives the iconic chain-mail bikini is a pretty amusing moment, and the colorwork by Adriano Lucas adds a nice depth and texture, playing up Rubi's pencils for all they're worth.
And that's a good thing, because the story isn't meant to reinvent the wheel. Luke Lieberman is telling a pretty standard story as far as origins go — girl meets boy, girl meets newly empowered sorcerer, sorcerer means bad things for boy — but the friction between his two protagonists does help this issue stand out a bit. Sonja, despite the scantily clad outfit, is all about girl power in this book, so seeing her bristle at her slave girl cover feels like the right response. And I'll give Lieberman this to his credit: This issue moves fast, and sets up the threat of Kulan Gath with a real economy. You get who Sonja is, you get who the threat is, and that makes the fight sequences flow.
But this book still has room to improve — particularly on the art. It feels almost like Rubi got rushed with the second half of this book — the line gets thicker and scratchier, and the composition and motion begins to feel runnier. (In fact, so do the colors, which are relied upon more and more to convey detail closer to the end of the book.) I said earlier in this review that first impressions are key for comics — and believe me, that's why I still have a positive view of this issue — but consistency is what will keep you coming back. Still, if you're looking to figure out what the big deal is about Queen Sonja, this is still a decent place to start.
Who Is Jake Ellis? #2 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Lan Pitts; Click here for preview): Now we're getting somewhere. The operation in Barcelona in the previous issue has made Jon a wanted man and on the run. Who exactly is chasing him in unclear because it is certainly not who he thought. Nathan Edmondson sheds a bit more light on Jon and Jake's relationship, but the question still remains: are they the same person or is Jake an entirely different entity? The story continues a fast and edgy pace that makes for a real exciting read. For some reason, I can't help but hear Ed Harris when I read Jake's dialog. Tonci Zonjic continues to do his thing on art , but while his attention to detail is great and he knows how to tell a story, I'm still waiting for this guy to just cut loose and show us what he's got. This issue (and series) is high-tense mystery and action rolled into a modern noir package that is not to be missed.
Abyss #1 (Published by Red 5 Comics; Review by Lan Pitts): I am really not sure what to think of this book. At the beginning it does have a page explaining what has been going on in this world and its characters, but I felt it was still full of inside jokes. Abyss was the world's greatest super villain at 17 years old, but what happens when the world thinks he's dead? Well in the case of young Eric, he becomes a superhero. Coming from a newcomer's eyes to this comic, it automatically reminded me of Robert Kirkman's Invincible with its brand of humor and character design. Kevin Rubio can by funny at times, but also I didn't understand the chemistry of certain characters. I think I got the gist of the scenario and the big reveal at the end was made pretty coherent and it made me curious on "what next?" which is what all comics should achieve. Alfonso Ruiz's art resembles Humberto Ramos with a bit of Joe Maduriera. It certainly has a more animated/cartoonish feel, but nothing "kiddy" about it. One complaint is that some pages were a little too busy, but nothing overly horrid that overcomplicated the storytelling. I'm curious on what has transpired beforehand and will look into it and I'm sure the second read will be better and appreciative.