Written by Matt Wagner and Quentin Tarantino
Art by Esteve Polls and Brennan Wagner
Lettering by Simon Bowland
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Justin Partridge, III
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
Its a team-up tailor-made for the grindhouse marquee; the defender of the oppressed, the masked swordsman known as Zorro and the fastest gun in the South, Django Freeman. While the announcement of said team-up and subsequent release of Jae Lee’s amazing cover got pulp aficionados such as myself excited, the end result is a bit more pedestrian than one would expect. Matt Wagner’s work on Dynamite’s Zorro title has been very much true to the genre from the very start, but Django/Zorro, co-written by auteur Quentin Tarantino, feels and reads like an inspired bit of fan-fiction starring two giants of the western genre. The voice of the characters are intact, as are their motivations, but, like most first chapters, it ends before it can truly get interesting, hopefully hooking readers to come back for more. Django/Zorro #1 has one hell of a hook, but unless you are a Tarantino completist or diehard western fan, the book has an uphill battle ahead of itself in order to impress casual readers.
Django/Zorro #1 opens with Don Diego de la Vega and his faithful companion Bernardo happening upon a stranded Django, who has just lost his horse, after attempting to track an errant bounty. Of course, this being a Tarantino joint, their meeting and much of the book itself is a dialogue heavy affair, albeit a bit less profanity laced that what we are used to seeing from him. Wagner and Tarantino keep the banter heavy but pinging as Vega and Django make their way across the Arizona countryside and run afoul of Django’s quarry. Its here that the banter falls away and artist Esteve Polls takes the reigns and delivers a terse and well staged bit of action. As a bandit tries to enter the stagecoach that holds Vega and Django, Django lets him have it full in the chest, rendered with a large panel that takes up the majority of the page. Esteve employs the same technique with the following page with a panel of Django firing from the cover of the coach dominating the page with three smaller action panels rounding out the page. It is a silent and economical way to achieve momentum in a book that, up until that point, desperately needed it.
Esteve and colorist Brennan Wagner make the most of Django/Zorro #1 dialogue-heavy script, staging most of the scenes between our titular heroes in a series of ever shifting two-shots and close-ups, much like QT himself. Esteve also makes sure that each of these scenes are rendered as humanly as possible with each man displaying a wide range of emotion in order to keep this debut issue from being more than just repeated angles of men talking. That said, those seeking a rollicking and bloody affair within the cover of this first issue will be sorely disappointed. Django/Zorro #1 serves as a very dry introduction to this team up, punctuated by the above described action scene and a quick jolt of swordplay from Vega, which reminds young Django of yet another deadly dandy that he had known previously. Django/Zorro #1 isn’t a bad debut issue, instead it is a very thoughtful and deliberate one. Wagner and Tarantino seem to be playing their cards close with this opening display in order to get readers in the door for the issues to come, but I fear that readers expecting something pulpier will be turned off by the dialogue heavy nature of this first issue. This is a team up worth our attention for sure, but it may take a few more issues or maybe even a full trade before it pops like it really should.
Django/Zorro #1 should be getting a higher rating. I will be the first to admit that. Even as I read it, expecting to be blown away by the story, I found myself being more and more disappointed by what I was reading, mainly because I would then have to sit down and then relate to you guys that this isn’t as good as it should be. In a lot of ways, this is a bummer, but on the upside, this is only the first issue and by the time the second issue comes out, I could be eating a bunch of crow because of how good #2 is. Though it may have been made for the headline marquee, Django/Zorro #1 isn’t the blockbuster that we really wanted.
All-New Captain America #1
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, Marte Gracia and Eduardo Navarro
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
Since the premiere of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the breakout character of the Cap-verse has undoubtedly been the high-flying Falcon, played to endearing, excitable perfection by Anthony Mackie. But that was just on the big screen - it's taken until now for Sam Wilson to get his deserved spotlight in the comics page. And that's why it's a delight to say that All-New Captain America #1 absolutely delivers - it's a return to form for writer Rick Remender, as he teams up with Stuart Immonen to tell a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that also happens to also be one of the best Cap tales in ages.
As first issues goes, this is about as exciting as it gets - with no exposition to weigh us down, Remender literally drops his new Captain America into the thick of things, as he dives into an underground base run by HYDRA. To say this is great work from Rick Remender is putting it mildly - this is some of the best writing I've ever seen him do, and I've kept up with him for the bad times and the good. Not only does he know how to pace an action sequence, but his dialogue is downright poetic, as Sam thinks about his upbringing in Harlem, and how his parents still affect him to this day. "Memories stop by like in-laws," Sam thinks to himself as weaves in between laser blasts. "You don't get to choose when."
It also happens to be a great primer on Sam for new readers, one that shows just how well the Captain America and Falcon iconographies can mesh together. Remender taps into the aerial dog-fighting action that made the Falcon so exceptional in the Winter Soldier film, but also Sam's telepathic link with bird life as well as the signature weapon of Captain America - that indestructible, ricocheting shield. Remender doesn't just get some cute lines about how Sam is adjusting to the shield, but he also gives the new Cap a great adversary to test his skills on: Batroc the Leaper, who steals the show with some of the best lines in the book. "Tell me, what is the super-power of the modern Captain America? Super-obesity? Hyper-warmongering? Omega illiteracy?" Sam's retort is perfect: "We've still got the best prison system--and you're going to be spending some time in it." Ouch.
Remender's artistic partner in this mix also helps sell this smooth-as-silk debut issue. Stuart Immonen is the kind of collaborator Remender deserves - his characters are fluid, his panel layouts are dynamic and draw the eye, and his fight choreography is just immaculate. I've spoken a lot about how this is a strong showing for Remender, but Immonen has absolutely leveled up here. He's got a great eye for the visual iconography here, and really helps shift gears for Sam as he transitions from aerial maneuvers to backflips and acrobatic kicks when he's on the ground. (It also goes without saying that the fact that he's able to sell Sam's overly complicated new digs is a victory in and of itself.) Colorists Marte Gracia and Eduardo Navarro also do great work highlighting that primary red for Sam - a nice contrast compared to Steve's trademark blue.
It's my business to keep up with comics week after week after week, but I'd be hard-pressed to recall a debut issue that's excited me as much as All-New Captain America #1. This is a book that has got the goods - a compelling lead character, death-defying action, some fast pacing and a couple of great twists. All that, and giving a perenially overlooked superhero his due? Let's just say that if Remender and Immonen can keep this streak going, Sam Wilson will have no problems filling in Steve Rogers' shoes as the All-New Captain America.
Written by Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher
Art by Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart and Maris Wicks
Lettering by Jared K. Fletcher
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
And you thought the first issue was good.
Barbara Gordon shrugs off any suggestion of a sophomore slump in Batgirl #36, a rollicking good time of a comic that juggles detective work, nearly supernatural feats of memory, high-stakes motorcycle swordplay, childhood anime and a dose of old-school soap opera just for good measure. While some fans might frown at the de-aging of Barbara Gordon in this soft reboot, Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher and Babs Tarr absolutely sell this new incarnation of Batgirl for a new generation of comic fans.
While last issue had some shakiness as the creative team asserted itself into Barbara's new digs in Burnside, this second issue is about as confident a comic as I've ever read. Barbara just feels real in this series, whether its shopping with friends, having a childhood love of anime, or sticking her foot in her mouth in front of a cute adjunct at school. The devil is in the details, and you can tell that Stewart and Fletcher are thinking about these things constantly - and not just for Barbara's civilian identity. From the moment she suits up - with her zippered jacket, snap-tied cape and yellow Doc Martens - it just becomes clear that Stewart, Fletcher and Tarr are just working on a different level. It's almost like seeing the world through Barbara's eidetic memory.
It also doesn't hurt that the case is just crazy enough to be entertaining. Of course Barbara would fight a pair of sword-wielding, motorcycle-riding anime hyper-fangirls. Why wouldn't she? These are the sorts of villains that could really add something to Batgirl as a standalone mythology, rather than always sitting in the gloomy shadows of Batman. Stewart and Fletcher also use this opportunity to continue to utilize Barbara's hyper-sensitive eidetic memory, showing us visually how Batgirl thinks - and even using it to treat us to some larger-than-life superheroic combat later in the book. Batgirl may wear the same symbol as Batman, but thanks to this clever use of her unique perspective, she's got a very distinctive way of doing things.
Speaking of distinctive, let's take a second to talk about the art. Batgirl is fascinating in the art department for a variety of reasons, but the first one I want to touch upon are the layouts. Cameron Stewart handles the breakdowns here, and what's so bold about that is how densely he packs his pages. Stewart might even one-up Chris Samnee in terms of sheer panels per page, with almost every page packing in seven, eight, sometimes even 13 images. It's astonishing, and it's all the more praise for him and Babs Tarr, who never drops the ball. (Seriously, the last panel of the book, having one of Barbara's friends giggling in the background? Amazing sense of detail. Bravo.)
While I've been sitting here praising Stewart and Fletcher's overall direction of the story, Babs Tarr is unequivocally the superstar of this book. She makes or breaks it, with her cartoony characters that always look both endearing and evocative. Tarr's sense of design works particularly well, whether its the realistic way that Barbara dresses, or the crazy way she portrays the Jawbreakers as sort of a pop-art, post-apocalyptic samurai biker chicks. Her characters are always super-expressive, but that pales in comparison to the way Tarr draws a fight sequence, especially the way Batgirl backflips out of danger at the last possible second.
I wish more Bat-books were as good as Batgirl. Hell, I wish more comics were as good as Batgirl. It's smart, funny, a brand-new take on a classic, and it looks absolutely, jaw-droppingly fantastic. Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need for a fresh start - and if this second issue is any indication, it looks like Burnside agrees with Batgirl even more than you might expect.
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
Review by Brendan McGuirk
The past few months have been rife with talk regarding the new, differently gendered Thor, but it wasn't until today that readers saw her swing the mighty hammer in the pages of any Marvel comics. Now, that's changed. But has anything else?
It's been billed as a huge status quo-change for the title, but what stands out about this first Odindaughter adventure is that it's actual a reversion to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's original formula for the character. We still don't know who this Thor was before she lifted Mjolnir and was granted all of the Asgardian powers that accompany it, but we know she's nearly as in the dark as we readers are, and figuring it out as she goes along. Like Donald Blake, the disabled doctor who discovered the mystic Uru hammer and found himself transformed into the God of Thunder in the original '60s Journey Into Mystery comics, or Eric Masterson, the single-father architect who first befriended Thor then became his mortal host, this masked mystery woman is someone who has been transformed into a god(dess), and thus has a secret, likely mortal identity. Her internal monologue reveals her confusion regarding her new superheroic powers, and that apparently it's the magic hammer wielding control. This leads to some funny moments where the thought bubbles indicate the her doubt, but the dialogue that erupts from her lips cast the heightened-speech confidence fans identify with Thor. The dichotomy, between mortal and god, was once a core part of the Marvel character – his “feet of clay” trait. Whatever we learn is going on here, that part of the Thor-story has been restored.
Everyone I know knows that I'm the biggest Thor fan they know, so when the announcement was made, months ago, about this “dramatic” new shift for the character, they all approached me with questions. Generally in the dark about things like comics' story-spoiling advance solicitation model, or Thor's long history of knockoffs, replacements and hosts, they wanted to know what was up with lady-Thor. We'll have to wait, the story hasn't happened yet, I told them, and they looked at me, confused, shook it off, and moved on to another topic of conversation. Now it's happened. I have rendered mine verdict. Verily, this story is good.
It's not a surprise; Jason Aaron has been steering Thor's ship like a... master... viking... guy... for over two years now. His stories have had all the blood and thunder any Thor fan could ask for. I was surprised he was making such a drastic change, but this was a guy that had managed to put three Odinsons, from different periods, into his book at the same time. He wasn't going to do anything stupid. What this issue revealed is that even though the Thor we've known and loved lo these 50 years is, in fact, off-stage, licking his wounds after being found unworthy of lifting his magic hammer following the events of the Original Sin miniseries, the stories Aaron and company have been telling since their Marvel Now! relaunch are being continued, only with an additional layer of Mjolnir-mystery.
What was surprising was the completely mind-blowing work of artist Russell Dauterman. His linework is fantastically crisp, evoking both Geof Darrow and Olivier Coipel. There's just a fantastic vibrancy to his work, never better represented than by the visual sound effects he weaves into his panels. Thor kicks all kinds of Frost Giant hide in this issue, and there's something to Dauterman's representation that just feels so new and alive that suits it perfectly to this new chapter.
Thor is a woman, but Thor is still Thor. She is saving Asgardians, battling foul creatures from across the Nine Realms, standing against Dario Agger and the nefarious forces of his Roxxon corporation, and summoning the thunder. That's all I really want out of my Thor comics. The rest of it? Well, I'll just have to figure that out along with her.
Superior Iron Man #1
Written by Tom Taylor
Art by Yildiray Cinar and Guru-eFX
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10
One of the twists to ripple off of Axis is an “evil” take on Tony Stark. One of the basic goals of Axis is to challenge our ideas of heroes and villains. What really makes them all that different? Considering there are superhuman abilities on either side of the coin, a mere indulgence of any one character trait seems to be enough to affect the balance. Tony Stark has always been a jerk but he was never really a villain, even if he was sometimes a bad guy. Tom Taylor and Yildiray Cinar take Tony’s selfishness to an obvious end and put him back on the bottle. But while Superior Iron Man might take its title from the mostly acclaimed Superior Spider-Man, it’s too early to tell if the creative team is approaching anywhere near that level of pathos.
Certain characters are innately good. Captain America, Spider-Man... there’s nothing about them that screams “could become a supervillain at any moment.” Tony Stark is a character that has had to keep the worst parts of himself in check in order to become a hero. His selfishness, his alcoholism and the greed inherent in his character are things that he struggles with and that make him relatable. And actually, we see many of the hyper-intelligent heroes of the Marvel Universe struggle with the great burden of immense knowledge. Bruce Banner and Reed Richards have both gone the “mad scientist” route in the past. Tom Taylor explores that territory with Tony, and it’s an odd fit.
For readers that haven’t kept up with Axis, the shift will seem sudden. Extremis 3.0 is introduced as the ultimate app. It makes you look and feel like a supermodel, and it completely transforms San Francisco. After introducing it, Taylor keeps readers at bay so that the reveals at toward the end will hit a little harder. It’s impossible to criticize the title for having Tony act out of character - that’s basically the concept behind the book. But it doesn’t read well. The dialogue is forced. His interactions might make readers uncomfortable. Superior Spider-Man worked so well because Otto’s character hadn’t actually changed, the way he interacted with the world did. Superior Iron Man struggles with having an even and enjoyable tone because there’s nothing redeemable about Tony Stark now and even some of the Marvel Universe’s greatest villains have something about them that humanizes them.
On top of the uneven tone, Yildiray Cinar’s work isn’t as strong as we’ve seen from him, even in his recent work at DC. Cinar’s characters almost all have the same furrowed brow look to them and his poses are too static. The best sequence is probably the action scene with She-Hulk and the splash page featuring Tony’s new armor. But in between those moments, Cinar’s pencils are marred by inconsistent inks, sketchy at times and then extremely clean at others. Unfortunately, Tom Taylor doesn’t give Cinar an opportunity to really give us a sense of setting. If we weren’t told we were in San Francisco, there are barely any visual signifiers. The result is a book that feels weirdly out of place. What works well for Cinar is Tony’s new Iron Man suit. The symbiote nature of the new technology he’s working on translates seamlessly. Incorporating some of the symbiote’s physical properties also opens up both Taylor and Cinar to new storytelling opportunities as we move forward.
Superior Iron Man doesn’t give us anything to cheer about yet. In the back matter, editor Mark Paniccia explains that a bit about the history of “the unlikable Iron Man” and how this book returns Tony to that point in his characterization and cranks it up. The problem is that Tony was pretty unlikable when he was tolerable. Making him even more unlikable and saddling him with a concept as groan-worthy as the creation of a killer app (pun half-intended), doesn’t do the character any favors and it forces Tom Taylor to write a character bereft of any dimension. Cinar’s work should improve as the threats in the book do. He does some of his best work with characters in involved in constant action. This issue is misstep for him but it’s not the end of the world. The final page reveal is... interesting but it still doesn’t instill a ton of faith in this reviewer. But I’ll stand by the idea that there are no bad concepts, only bad execution. So far, the execution is severely lacking here.
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Jock and Matt Hollingsworth
Lettering by Clem Robins
Published by Image Comics
Review by Kat Vendetti
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
The last issue of Wytches left us at a cliffhanger without revealing exactly what Charlie Rooks discovered had crashed through Sailor’s window. Wytches #2 does resolve that, but don’t expect to be hit with the answer right from the start. Instead, Scott Snyder lets the aftermath of that event stew throughout this issue while weaving it with individual scenes featuring each member of the Rooks family and the effects it has on each of them. Snyder adds to the elements he introduced last time while also thickening the portent and ingraining the fact that though they sought a fresh start, the Rooks family can’t escape what they tried to leave behind.
Snyder creates a false sense of security in this issue by showing Sailor, Charlie and Lucy in seemingly safe spaces — at school, home and work, respectively. But there is the constant sensation that there’s something darker looming overhead, and what really sells this feeling is Matt Hollingsworth’s colors: they amplify as things start to get unsettling, and you can almost hear it like white noise intensifying before some horrifying reveal. Neon reds and blues are hauntingly splattered across panels in which things aren’t quite right, as something catches Sailor’s eye through the window and Lucy takes care of an injured boy in the hospital. Meanwhile, Jock’s art excels in the scenery—in the brittle trees, the grotesque shapes in the rain, and glimpses of wytches in the woods. Paired with Hollingsworth’s colors, they create a truly creepy atmosphere to match Snyder’s script, and this issue feels consistently eerie and uneasy.
This all lends to a solid pace in Wytches #2, as the effects of Sailor’s encounter at the end of the last issue slowly unravel. Snyder introduces new developments while maintaining ones exposed in the first issue, without giving too much away. Moments from Wytches #1 are echoed here; Lucy’s scene in the hospital is reminiscent of the sick deer in Wytches #1, in the sense that it serves as a reminder that there are darker things invading the Rooks family’s hope for a new start. And as this issue crescendos towards its end, Snyder builds the sense of foreboding and adds new layers to it without revealing too much this early on in the story.
Until he kind of does. As the pace quickens in the last few pages, things are exposed that didn’t remain shrouded in mystery for very long. Considering how young this series is, what is shown at the end of Wytches #2 feels like it comes a bit too early for the series.
But despite how much this issue reveals, it raises more questions than it answers, and Snyder gives new additions to the mix that subvert much of what we’ve come to learn so far. And there is the lingering concern posed at this issue’s open: a world where wishes come true is nightmarish, and as Charlie and Reggie conclude, “we all know how that ends.” We know how hard Sailor wished for something bad to happen to Annie — so how will this end for the Rooks family? Though some things may have been revealed too prematurely in Wytches #2, Snyder is continuing to give us more about the titular wytches and what role they will fill in the Rooks family’s lives, delivering a compelling and eerie second chapter to his series.
Written by Ivan Brandon
Art by Nic Klein
Lettering by Clem Robins
Published by Image Comics
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Review by Brendan McGuirk
Mysterious man suffers an accident, wakes up in a mysterious place. Crossed and mortally wounded by another mysterious stranger, he is taken in by the local community, who have nearly as many questions as he has, himself. Equipped with only his sidearm and his sense of disquiet, he begins to find his way in this new world, following revenge against the one that's wronged him as his True North, only to find himself enveloped in – wait for it – an even greater mystery.
Nic Klein and Ivan Brandon's Drifter is my favorite kind of genre fiction. The plot outlined above may ring with familiarity, but this first issue's story is anything but, and those familiar beats only makes the negative space - the mystery - all the more compelling. Some men, by their nature, are doomed to live certain kinds of lives. Abram Pollux seems to be one of those men; a hard man, a pilot who flies alone, who would be lost no matter his location, whose only trusted friend resides on his hip. Men like this are destined for adventure, though fated to find it joyless. Pollux's first act, when his ship crashes onto this mysterious planet, the one that saved him from perishing, adrift, in space's cold isolation, is one of violence. Were he an explorer, this vast new world would offer him immeasurable opportunity to ply his craft, to learn and grow, but he is not. He is a certain kind of man. A man of violence. His die is cast.
Ivan Brandon's terse script keeps the tension tight as a piano wire, but the star of Drifter is the lush, gorgeous work of artist Nic Klein. Marrying sci-fi and Western genres may not be revolutionary unto itself – when the frontiersmen run out of frontiers, we turn to those of our imaginations – but his command of burnt colors on the horizon and dilapidated, lived and worn-in machinery makes Drifter look and feel like the original Star Wars meeting Breaking Bad. His linework, particularly with regards to character figures, seems more rigid and deliberate than it was on Viking the creative pair's previous work, but the moody atmospherics remain as immersive as ever. No detail is spared, but the duo's output feels minimalist, reluctant to dole out any more than the story, or its protagonist, demands.
Pollux is thrust into a settling right out of a spaghetti Western, albeit with an off-worldly bent. You can practically hear the spurs ratting as he makes his first entrance to the local saloon. Everyone seems to be looking at each other with eyes drawn low with suspicion. They'd all be outlaws if the place were civilized to have any. The beautiful backdrop is wasted on the characters who refuse to acknowledge it. This is a high-contrast comic.
Starring archetypal characters that avoid the wrong side of cliché, on a world where nothing is yet obvious but promises to reveal its most compelling traits in time, and moving in a direction that feels like we may know the route but couldn't possibly gauge the destination, Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein are off to a roaring start on their latest Image offering. Drifter is a book you inhale, though it will likely burn your lungs. It's a hard drink, but one that goes down oh so easy.
Deep State #1
Written by Justin Jordan
Art by Ariela Kristantina and Ben Wilsonham
Lettering by Ed Dukeshire
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Conspiracy theorists will have a field day with Justin Jordan and Ariela Kristantina's Deep State, a book that shares a common kinship with the cult classic Men in Black, albeit taking a more Earth-centric approach towards keeping the unthinkable hidden from the public eye. While this issue suffers from some decompression, there's enough proof of concept to show that Jordan's alternate history has potential.
Like Men in Black before it, Jordan makes the core dynamic of Deep State like a standard buddy-cop drama - Branch is a young, obsessive cop who is picked up by Harrow, a man who works with an organization you probably have never heard of. (Indeed, the similarities to MiB wind up getting so strong that Jordan himself pins a joke on it.) And this is a bit of a good-news, bad-news kind of situation: These characters still feel pretty thin, with Branch's motivations in particular seeming especially opaque. (Why join up with this mysterious man who broke into her apartment? Why believe anything he has to say?)
The good news is, that's forgivable. At least for now.
Despite its shallow characters, all is not lost for Deep State. This is plot- and concept-driven more than anything else, and as far as a first issues go, having a hook is important. Jordan weaves together some simple but interesting secrets for Branch and Harrow to keep covered, including the horrors waiting for the U.S. and Soviet Union during the space race. It's this sequence that feels really horrific yet surprisingly smart - plus, once you work out the logistics in your head, astronauts with space-flamethrowers is unequivocally freaking cool.
Artist Ariela Kristantina recently made a big splash over in one of the numerous Death of Wolverine books, but Deep Space is likely where people will get to know her better. She may be an acquired taste for some, especially those who are demanding unyielding steadiness to their character designs. Kristantina wobbles, and occasionally her expressions wind up looking distended or strangely off-balance, but I think that works for a series as potentially strange as Deep Space. (Yet strangely enough, she really draws the hell out of a space suit.) It also doesn't hurt that she has the right colorist working with her, as Ben Wilsonham really smooths out some of her blobbier characters, adding in necessary shading and weight to everyone in the book.
Now, all I can say to describe Deep State at this point is that it's a strong start. Admittedly, it is a victim of decompression, albeit nothing that we haven't seen in a million other books on the stands. But with a deficit of strong characterization, a little bit further plot progression might have sealed the deal. For now, it's more on the razor's edge - the ideas are there, and the execution seems promising, so if the next issue makes more progress, Deep State could be a winner.