The Adventures of Supergirl Chapter 2
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Bengal
Published by DC Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
While DC has yet to truly prove themselves on the big screen, the small screen is absolutely their domain. The Flash, Arrow and now, Supergirl prove that there is no limit to what you can do with these characters. Corporate synergy is usually a pretty icky concept to consider, but with DC’s digital-first series, Adventures of Supergirl, they’re able to avoid the quagmire of less-than-quality comic book tie-ins and produce something that takes all of its cues from the show and it actually works.
To his credit, it’s not like Sterling Gates is new around these parts. Gates’s run on Supergirl was incredibly well-remembered, and this allows the fan-favorite creator to come back to a beloved property. Gates puts Kara front and center with some standard superheroics but uses them to explore her relationship with her sister. This iteration of Supergirl is a bit different than we’re used to and Alex’s involvement with the D.E.O. provides some extra friction in their sibling rivalry. Kara’s constant narration might be annoying to some but it does give us some insight into her character that the brief nature of this installment wouldn’t allow us to get otherwise. Gates juxtaposes Kara and Alex against Rampage and her sister and it adds some weight to the script. This is a pretty breezy, by-the-numbers plot but there’s some heart in there.
On the art side, Bengal keeps things light and that’s perfectly in tone with the story. Rather than stick too closely to the likenesses of the actors in the show, Bengal makes them his own with his appropriately cartoony take. This allows him to uses a wider range of expressions and work a bit outside of the expectations of other tie-in properties. Oftentimes when we get tie-ins that bear no resemblance to the media they’re tying in to, it can take us out of the story, but that’s not the case here. By not slavishly trying to emulate a live-action style, Bengal is able to capture the tone of the show and deliver on big-time superheroics at the same time.
The biggest knock on this series is the length of each chapter. Because what you’re reading is essentially half a comic book, there’s a feeling that things don’t really get going. That said, it still works in terms of giving more to fans of the show who might not have interacted with comics before now. The team has a great handle on the tone of the show and translating into something palatable for a new audience. With the support of the show and a lack of messy continuity, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this Supergirl overtake the current DCU version as the preferred take on the character.
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Caitlin Rose Boyle and Mickey Quinn
Lettering by Corey Breen
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by Kelly Richards
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Cute, angry, and aggressively feminine Jonesy sets the tone from the very first page as she looks the reader in the eye and draws them in with what reads almost as a threat. Coming from Sam Humphries (Guardians of the Galaxy) and newcomer Caitlin Rose Boyle, Jonesy #1 begins with our heroine walking the reader through the worst day ever. Regularly breaking the fourth wall like an anti-social Ferris Bueller who has spent way too much time on Tumblr. Gifted with secret powers and one heck of an attitude Jonesy is an absolute delight as it mixes high school angst and adorable artwork to give readers something that's both effortlessly fun and decidedly tongue in cheek.
Standing as something of a departure from Humphries previous work at Marvel Comics, Jonesy punches for a much younger audience and will appeal to fans of books like Bee and Puppycat and Help Me! Great Warrior. A self professed ‘expert in things that are cool, and things that suck’ Jonesy, is antagonistic and angsty. However, there is charm in her misanthropy and she is endlessly endearing as she slouches along that very teenaged line of doesn’t care and cares too much.
Through what could have been sheer luck alone, Humphries has somehow managed to capture the adolescent tone of ‘it's not what you say, it's the way you say it’ and inject it in his dialogue to hilarious effect. Even when Jonesy is being nice it comes off as a little threatening and it is there touches that make the character so interesting. Jonesy is not like the teenagers you read about in other books, she is the teenager you went to school with, and it's quite refreshing to be confronted with a character who is so true to life. However, I will concede that Jonesy won't be for everyone. Readers will either love Jonesy and her snipey, abrasive personality, or it will give them embarrassing flashbacks of their own teenage years and they won't be able to read on for shame.
With art from Caitlin Rose Boyle, Jonesy looks to be heavily inspired by contemporary animation. The use of bold, heavy line weights hints at a younger audience. However, when paired with the character design and the many ways in which Boyle has managed to convey teenage irritability, there are suggestions of a more tongue in cheek approach to the visuals. Incredibly diverse with regards to body type and race, and bursting with interesting details Boyle has instilled a great deal of personality into the pages of Jonesy without compromising her style. When paired with colors from Mickey Quinn, Boyle’s art takes on a whole other dimension and almost becomes a little surreal as Jonesy cuts through the pinks, purples, and greens of Queen’s obnoxiously bold palette with her cloud of jet black hair.
While Jonesy may not hit the mark for all readers, it goes further than most in creating something that is simultaneously relatable and whimsical. Readers will find a lot to love and will have fun while doing so. A strong start for an all ages comic book Jonesy is undeniably charming and brimming with promise.
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Dylan Burnett and Dee Cunniffe
Lettering by Taylor Esposito
Published by Heavy Metal
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
The last line of Interceptor #2 is "let's have some fun," and let me tell you, that's the driving force of this sophomore effort from Heavy Metal. Fusing together vampire mythology with sci-fi post-apocalyptic warfare, the high concept of Interceptor is on full display here, as Donny Cates, Dylan Burnett and Dee Cunniffe go straight for the jugular and drop readers right into the thick of things.
From the very first page - where we see a blood-gorged vampire queen reclining next to a group of nude corpses - you immediately get the over-the-top, grindhouse sensibilities Cates and Burnett are bringing to the table here. It's an effective way to set up the environment of this vampire world that's grown in the shadow of nuclear winter - and a great way to show just how bad these vampires are. In general, the high concept of Interceptor is complicated but rewarding, and as we dive deeper into this issue, Cates continues to develop the seedy world of vampire domination.
Of course, once Cates gives us the prerequisite introductions to young freedom fighter Weep and Poli, an enigmatic fighter from the stars and the book's titular Interceptor, it's action, action and more action. Not only does Poli get to show how deadly she is even without her mech suit, but Weep and her rebel friends wind up really stealing the show, particularly with Cates' gift for snappy military one-liners: "Stay alert. Stay alive. Don't bleed. Death before the undead." While more serious comics aficionados might turn up their nose as this sort of explosion of gratuitious violence, for a Heavy Metal operation, this is the kind of insanity that absolutely rings true.
But this kind of off-the-wall concept wouldn't work without an insane art team to pull it off, and thankfully, that's where Interceptor really sticks the landing. Dylan Burnett has a playful, cartoony side underneath all those shadows and grime, reminding me at times of Tony Moore and other times of Roc Upchurch. Burnett is at his best when he's portraying characters in motion - a panel of Weep's clothes blowing back as a vampire explodes in front of her is a great bit of poetry, and a double-page spread of the rebels overrunning a vampire base is as bold and brash as it is chaotic, with great details like a militarized Volkswagon or a tricked-out stretch Hummer with the words "EAT SH*T" painted on the side. The real heroes of this book, however, has to be colorist Dee Cunniffe and letterer Taylor Esposito - the use of reds and aquas give Interceptor its unique tone and energy, and Esposito plays along nicely, punctuating action scenes with well-placed sound effects.
That said, there are a handful of quirks that do hold this book back a bit. The action-first structure of this issue feels a bit backwards to me - I understand the urge to let loose with the pyrotechnics quickly to keep readers hooked, but once the battle subsides, the ensuing info-dump feels jarring and out of place, as if it's something that we should have already been looped in on earlier. (On the plus side, though, new readers will still be able to pick up on most of the story just by context clues.) Additionally, while Weep and Poli are comfortably archetypical, once Cates starts introducing pockets of human resistance, the characterization slips a bit, stumbling on the ethics of children in combat.
Perhaps the reason why is that Interceptor is not the kind of book that is meant to make heady judgment calls about the efficacy of war. This is the kind of book that grabs you sheerly on the strength of its high concept and its visual execution - it's the sort of visceral pleasure and deliberate design that made movies like Mad Max: Fury Road such a box office smash. If this creative team can keep the pedal to the metal and keep giving us more vampires, more combat, more sci-fi, Interceptor is going to make for a strong forerunner for Heavy Metal comic books.
King's Road #1
Written by Peter Hogan
Art by Phil Winslade, Staz Johnson and Douglas Sirois
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Review by Oscar Maltby
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Dark Horse Presents is undoubtedly one of the most successful American comic book anthologies, with names like Sin City and Buffy the Vampire Slayer making their four-color debuts within its pages. Writer Peter Hogan and artist Phil Winslade hope to join their famous fellow alumni with King's Road #1, a sword-and-sorcery meets the modern day tale that revels in its light-hearted and old-school interpretation of traditional fantasy tropes. Pulling double-duty as both a reprint of the series' Dark Horse Presents chapters and an all-new first issue, King's Road #1 is a mammoth 46 pages of pulpy content.
Tyler and Ashley are fairly ordinary high-school kids. When they receive news that an estranged uncle has died, they're quickly thrown into a warring world of fantasy as dark forces jump from the land of Avalon to threaten them. You see, their late uncle was the King of Avalon, which makes their dad Don the new ruler and a wanted man. Peter Hogan's script puts the seemingly ordinary family of King's Road #1 into immediate action, as he throws monsters at the scene before establishing any of the characters. This approach ensures that we hit the ground running, but means the initial threat doesn't really work in the way it should. It's an exciting yet disorienting read, one that perhaps could have used a little more setup to properly immerse us in the action.
The original short Dark Horse Presents chapters of King's Road #1 ensure that the issue moves along in punchy bursts, never more than a few pages away from the next cliffhanger. You can definitely see the seams, but it doesn't derail the flow of the collected issue as much as it potentially could have. There's no massive attempt to recap past events through exposition, letting the issue move forward unhindered by its anthologized original printing.
Away from the core narrative, Hogan's dialogue is hit-and-miss. He absolutely nails the formal affectations of royal conversation, but when it comes to the average teenage girl, he falls at the first hurdle. “He wants me. And maybe... just maybe... he can have me.” says Ashley as she chats with a friend at high school. “Well, aren't you just the Belle Dame Sans Merci...” replies her friend, in an especially cringeworthy scene.
Phil Winslade's detailed pencilwork carries the issue's first 24 pages with a strong attention to facial detailing. Winslade favors detailed characters over everything else, letting the background fade into an unfocused haze of color and shape. Winslade is great at depicting the ravages of age; older character's faces crease and fold in an uncannily realistic manner. Staz Johnson takes the pencil for the second half of the issue, offering up a much more even treatment that gives equal weight to person and object. In one highlight, Johnson's illustrations come alive for a cavalcade of fairground monsters which inject the horror of old Hollywood into King's Road #1's schlocky world of fantasy.
Make no mistake, King's Road #1 is sat-in-the-basement-playing-Dungeons & Dragons-in-'86 style fantasy. There's no hint of Game of Thrones' ubiquitous brand of gothic gore here, as Phil Winslade colors his pages in soft and bright watercolors that reflects Hogan's purposefully hokey tone, although it occasionally devolves into shades of nondescript brown, especially during one huge Orc-saturated battle sequence. Colorist Douglas Sirois aims for a much moodier tone for the second half of the issue, swaddling Hogan's night-time scenes in dark blue punctuated with a firey orange and fantastical green as our world gives way to Avalon.
King's Road #1 is more suited to a dusty old comic book shop's bargain bin; lying dog-eared, water-damaged and thoroughly loved, than in the glossy glow of the new release rack. Occasionally embarrassing but always entertaining, King's Road #1 is one for the pulp fantasy fan.