Best Shots Extra: FEAR ITSELF #2, MOON KNIGHT #1, More

Best Shots Extra: FEAR ITSELF #2, More

FEAR ITSELF Q&A w/ Fraction & Brevoort
FEAR ITSELF Q&A w/ Fraction & Brevoort

Fear Itself #2

Written by Matt Fraction

Art by Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger and Laura Martin

Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by George Marston

I'll certainly say this for Matt Fraction, he certainly doesn't waste time. Fear Itself does a great job of building an air of paranoia, panic, and pandemonium by moving along with a rapid staccato, focusing on each scene only long enough to serve the story. It's a refreshing mode of event storytelling, as it feels like we're getting the whole picture from reading the main title, but it's not flagging or getting hung up on a particular beat.

Stuart Immonen is proving to be the perfect choice for this book; his linework, aided by his usual inker Wade von Grawbadger and colorist extraordinaire Laura Martin is the perfect blend of depth and deceptive simplicity. With issue number 2 continuing the introduction of the major players, including the much vaunted "Worthy," it looks like all hell is just about to break loose in this title, and the pace has been set perfectly.

Fraction's choices for the hammer-wielders he calls "The Worthy" are varied and, in many cases, unpredictable. It's been common knowledge for some time that Juggernaut would be one of the Worthy, and this issue confirms the theory that Hulk would also answer that call, but some of those chosen are a lot more surprising, such as Titania (with her husband Absorbing Man in tow), and the Atlantean despot Attuma. With appearances from other lesser-known characters such as Tiger Shark, and Thunderball, it's very exciting to see Matt Fraction plumbing the depths of the Marvel Universe, and not sticking strictly with the usual suspects.

With four more Worthy yet to be revealed, and a good chance that at least two of those will be Ben Grimm and the Black Panther, the line up of villains for this story is looking very interesting indeed. On top of that, main baddie Sin/Skadi, and her surrogate "father," the Serpent unleash their Blitzkrieg USA attack strategy, sowing chaos, and destruction across North America, even as the rest of the Asgardians retreat from Midgard, prepared to leave the mortals to their fate.

The main strength of Fear Itself, aside from its fantastic creative line-up, is that it doesn't seem to focus on a single idea, or to rely on one particular story beat to justify its existence. Rather than a means to an end, it comes across as an actual story; a collective reading experience that may change the landscape of the Marvel Universe, but doesn't seem focused on doing so at the expense of its own readability. I wasn't particularly excited about this event when it as announced, but now that it's begun, it's turned out to be a fun, fast-paced read that any fan of Marvel Comics should be picking up.


Moon Knight #1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Alex Maleev and Matthew Wilson

Lettering by Cory Petit

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by Colin Bell

Don't call it a reboot!

No seriously, don't. Full disclosure: barring his brief appearances in Heroes For Hire and Shadowland, I've had little experience with Moon Knight. So when a new series headed up by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev was announced I, along with presumably several thousand other new readers being brought in, made a point of checking it out. In their work on Daredevil, Bendis and Maleev created one of the great long-form runs in modern comics, and the mojo that served them well on that title has been evident in recent creator-owned endeavor Scarlet, so hopes were high that this newest project would be of the same standard. On the basis of this first issue though, I can’t say for definite how long I’ll be sticking around with Moon Knight.

As someone coming on to Moon Knight for the first time, and given that this is a premiere issue, I would have hoped for a bit more ‘who he is and how he came to be’ on Marc Spector than we’re offered in this issue. The first five pages are devoted to a television-show-within-a-comic, that unless something happens further down the line, adds little to the story, other than "Marc Spector produces television now" and as such feel kind of squandered. It also doesn’t help when the final page is designed to act as a twist, but said twist has been revealed several months ago by pre-release publicity. Whilst I’m led to believe that not all the comic book community live on the internet and there may be some that go into this book unspoiled, it’s a sad experience to get to the last page of a book and say ‘well, I already knew that’.

That said, the twist of Marc Spector’s multiple personalities now including Spider-Man, Wolverine and Captain America is still one that interests me, and the scenes of them bantering off of each other makes good use of Bendis’ trademark back-and-forth dialogue. There’s also a mystery villain at work in Spector’s new turf of Los Angeles, and who doesn’t love one of those?

Alex Maleev remains on form as ever, with a handful of great images of Moon Knight in action. There’s a particularly fine sequence with the hero struggling with a van underwater (it makes sense in context) that conveys an urgency and peril and really stuck out for me, and it’s testament to Maleev’s progression as an artist that he captures the movement in such a successful way. It’s doubtful that this book will change your opinion about his art one way or another – if you like it already you’ll continue to do so, but there were some strange coloring choices that jarred for me where space left for lighting effects have simply been rendered white, leaving many characters looking like they’ve been daubed in paint.

As a single issue, it’s solid enough - but overall I’m a little cold on the book. At this point I just don’t feel as if I know enough about the protagonist to feel invested in the story. Perhaps this will change with subsequent issues.


B.P.R.D.: The Dead Remembered #2

Written by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie

Art by Karl Moline, Andy Owens

Lettering by Dave Stewart

Published by Dark Horse Comics

Review by Jeff Marsick

The character study of teen-aged Liz Sherman continues in this issue as the mystery of Father Yafides’s haunted Massachusetts home deepens. There. In one sentence I’ve managed to both summarize the book and do it horrible disservice by affording you just the visible one-third of the iceberg.

Below the waterline there’s a whole lot more going on. This is fourteen year-old Liz Sherman’s first outing with Broom since her wardship with B.P.R.D. began and while you’d think she’d be all giggity about getting out of her cage in the Fairfield facility for some clean air and extracurriculars, she’s got spirituality issues (“I used to be Catholic”) that rear up not only because she’s visiting a priest’s turf, but also because once upon a moon a woman was killed there for being a witch. For being odd. Like pyrotechnic Lizzie.

Go deeper still and there’s Liz and her curious aversion to taking her medication, we know not why (yet). Then there’s Michael, a local boy her age with whom she shares her most intimate and horrifying secret: the incident that landed her in the B.P.R.D. in the first place (we finally get to see it!). It’s a nice moment that ends awkwardly, simply adding more weight to Liz’s already taxed shoulders. And if that’s not enough, there’s the home’s bedevilment with all its eerie weirdness.  

For a plate of just three issues, it’s chock full of calories.

I thought Karl Moline’s somewhat cartoony style was a little off-putting at first, but it grew on me, especially since it softens Liz and makes her a cute teen-ager. This is, after all, her story, and not so much the B.P.R.D.’s. I’m also going to call out the great lettering by Clem Robins, who manages to make sound effects a character in themselves that amp up the creepy just when you think it’s safe to turn the page. And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remark on the fantastic covers by Jo Chen. The first issue’s made me wonder if Willow from Buffy was doing a crossover (how cool would THAT be? Willow meets Liz Sherman?), but issue two’s Firestarter-ish offering is terrifically haunting and not only a portent of Liz Sherman’s awe-inspiring capabilities but the horror of her past that she can’t ever escape.

When it comes to B.P.R.D. every issue is well worth the money, and the re-readability quotient is always high. This series is no exception and this is a book you should be reading.

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