'Rama Readers! You ready for tomorrow's reviews, today? Best Shots knows all, and we are ready to pierce the veil of time and space for your reading pleasure! So let's kick off today's column with the latest revival from Rob Liefeld's Extreme Studios, Supreme #63...Supreme #63
Written by Alan Moore
Art by Erik Larsen and Cory Hamscher
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Colors by Steve Oliff
Published by Image Comics
Review by Rob McMonigal
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
In the revived world of Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Universe, Supreme is the mightiest superhero of all. Yet all it might take is a comic book to destroy him, when it falls into the hands of an old foe. The very medium we’re reading might be the Kryptonite for this Superman-like figure as we explore the insanity that is Daxia, a haven of sorts for the all the evil Daxes that ever existed, as they plot to ruin Supreme’s bliss once and for all.
Who says that Grant Morrison is the only writer allowed to play with old comic book story concepts? While Morrison might be the most notable writer weaving modern narratives out of Golden, Silver, and Bronze age adventures with concepts such as , for my money, Alan Moore will always be the best at doing so. Sadly, it’s not something that we see from Moore these days, but now we get one last look at the genius of an Alan Moore superhero comic with this final story arc in the resurrected Supreme.
Starting off from the credits page with an old-school feel (“At Last! The Comic you’ve dreamed about is here!”), Moore quickly shows that he is once again going to demonstrate his mastery of the medium by using an homage to the infinite worlds concept to set up what looks to be a bloody modern battle with as many Easter Egg character references as Erik Larsen and Cory Hamscher can sneak in. What looks to just be an amusing sidebar turns into a major plot point, as the Dax of “our” world quickly realizes that not only are there multiple Daxes—there’s a world of Supremes to be attacked, too!
Showing an amazing pacing ability, Moore stretches this idea across the entire comic, using the time to both remind readers of the insanity, cruelty, and evil of Dax (and his analogues) as well as create as idyllic a situation as possible for Supreme, so that when the two characters eventually collide, the loss for our hero will be all that much greater. In just a few scenes, Moore drops hints that leave the reader guessing, especially in relation to Diana Dane and her role in this story. We end with a splash page that gives a sense of the scale of the battle to come and also leaves you wanting to count down the days to the next issue.
As good as Moore’s script is here, a lot of the credit for this book’s success needs to go to Larsen and Hamscher for their ability to match Moore’s ambitious script with visuals that rival the work of Gene Ha and Zander Cannon with Moore on . I don’t know if it was Moore or Larsen who came up with the multiple little nods and winks to characters in other superhero pantheons, but they show up fast and furious in the Dax sections. I don’t want to ruin the fun of discovery, but anyone unsure about this comic should be aware there’s an evil version of Howard the Duck that features prominently. The final splash page I mentioned will keep eagle-eyed readers guessing for ages, as the art team provides a few obvious homages and then gets far more subtle and obscure as the characters blend into the background. I cannot wait to see some of them in action!
It’s not just in the little surprises that this comic excels, however. While Larsen inking his own work can sometimes result in flattened figures that don’t quite look fully formed, here his visuals almost pop off the page, which I attribute to Hamscher’s inking. He rounds things off to give depth while preserving the distinctive look of Larsen’s expressive faces, dynamic poses, and hulking figures. Even the dialogue-heavy sections (and there are many, because this is a Moore script) are given fluidity due to clever artistic choices and smart camera angles. The art changes viewpoint and perspective frequently, which I thought was a nice touch. You can tell what a character is thinking by how they look and what they are doing in each panel. Even the sex scenes are tasteful, doing a lot by showing little.
Supreme #63 is the book of the week for me. It shows what can be done when craft and care are taken, from plot to script to art. Is it May 2 yet?Swamp Thing #8
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Marco Rudy, Yanick Paquette, and Nathan Fairburn
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
The tension between Sethe and Swamp Thing has been culminating for quite sometime now, and yet it goes continues on in Swamp Thing #8. Now you have to keep in mind that Alec Holland's identity crisis was a couple of issues in there as well. Having eight issues out of the box, I didn't think it would have taken this long to get to this point of the story, but Snyder's style of slow-roasting until they're just right has paid off in the past.
You might have seen Swampy get a new, more armored look to him in certain previews. The bark antlers as a sort of Norse crown or helmet is a nice touch. Marco Rudy does a great job of helping Yanick Paquette here because Paquette's pages are some of the strongest he's done yet. It reads as a typical Snyder-made comic with heavy captions and a lot of action, but not a lot of dialogue.
Paquette's art speaks volumes here with his heavy lines and added with awesome depth by Nathan Fairburn on colors. Paquette has gotten the whole macabre imagery down pat. His broad linework still remind me of Ryan Sook, but they are distinguished as his own. The double-page spreads are wonderful to really dive into as they let him do his thing and it looks like no other DC book out there. Fairburn's palette of heavy reds and yellows make Swamp Thing pop out even more.
Snyder continues to show how powerful Sethe's magic is, and Swampy fights to the best of his new abilities, but that's a portion of the issue. Most of the issue is just Sethe proving his power to Holland and the chaos he's created. I do like the reverse coloring on their dialogue, giving even more hints that these forces are in direct opposition. It's small, but a nod to the attention to detail this creative team puts in this book.
Swamp Thing has been a great book thus far, but it seems almost a little dragged out at this point. This is a solid issue, but I feel that the last issue and this issue could have been a single issue. Now, the cliffhanger in this one gives an inkling that things could be wrapped up nicely in the next issue, but I doubt it. Then again, we've gotten so accustomed to 3-4 issue arcs, maybe one nice elongated run to things will spice things up and allow the story to breathe accordingly.
Danger Club #1
Written by Landry Q. Walker
Art by Eric Jones
Colors by Michael “Rusty” Drake
Letters by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt
Published by Image Comics
Review by Erika D. Peterman
’Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
In comics, every teen hero reaches a point where he or she wants to prove capable of saving the world, or at least the day, without adult supervision. It’s a timeless theme that has fueled many excellent stories.
But what if the elders are completely out of the picture, maybe for good? What becomes of the sidekicks, to say nothing of the world, that they left behind?
Those questions are at the center of Danger Club #1, which is yet another top-notch offering from Image Comics. The Earth's young capes are in a dark place after the disappearance of their mentors, who were last seen departing for space to fight a yet-unnamed evil. Apollo, a super-teen with a god complex, has exploited their fears so well that some are falling all over themselves to follow him. But the members of the Danger Club, led by Kid Vigilante, are not having it. Actually, Kid Vigilante isn't having much of anything. Confident and extremely tough, he provides the book’s most shocking moments. The first rule of Danger Club? Do not make him hit you.
Writer Landry Q. Walker sets a fast pace and doesn’t waste a lot of time with setup or character introductions. This is an efficient, action-packed story that makes the most of the comic’s premise. Left to their own devices, a bunch of agitated, powerful youngsters are fighting among themselves, jockeying for position and abandoning their ideals. With apologies to The Who, the kids are not alright. I'm thinking “Lord of the Flies,” only with teleportation, giant robots and sonic blasts. Walker has created quite an interesting cast of characters to develop.
Eric Jones’ art here is fantastic. Check the opening page, done retro style. The scenes in the arena where Apollo holds his messed-up auditions for sycophants hum with energy. Most importantly, Jones never lets us forget that children are the players. Everyone looks about 14, tops, making the violent scenes uncomfortably unforgettable. The color scheme is too heavy on blues, purples and grays for my liking. However, there are bursts of color that burn brightly against the moody backdrop.
With a smashing first issue to its credit, Danger Club has all the makings of a high-quality hit. Join up.
Written and Lettered by Paul Grist
Art by Paul Grist and Bill Crabtree
Published by Image Comics
Review by Rob McMonigal
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
If spraypainting over a school logo gets you detention, what’s the punishment for fighting the legacy of a super-powered human who’s supposed to be dead when the teacher steps out of the room? Young and unintentional hero Owen Craig might just find out in third issue of Paul Grist’s unabashed throwback superhero comic Mudman.
A longtime friend of mine put me on to Paul Grist with his look at UK-themed superheroes, and I quickly became a fan of this new series that debuted late last year. Grist has mentioned previously in his introduction to the series that he is a huge fan of comic books. Not graphic novels or issues written for trade, but things meant to be read serially and individually. This is obvious in the plot and pacing of this issue, which features four parts, all of which could have been stretched into their own comics had Grist chosen to decompress the storytelling.
Mudman #3opens with a fight scene between two characters that clearly know each other, though we do not. They go out in a mysterious blast, but it won’t be the last we see of a strange metal toy lost in the fight. I really like how this sequence, in only a few pages, expands the world of Owen Craig in the way that pages of exposition could not. Unfortunately, however, it’s not Grist’s best work artistically. With his thin, angular lines, Grist’s style always looks like it belongs in the Silver Age of comics and frequently reminds me of Steve Ditko, especially here due to the teen hero protagonist. In this section of the story, Grist’s weaknesses hurt the actions he’s chosen to show the reader. It’s like Grist was taking photos and picked all the wrong ones to keep. I think part of that is due to trying to show too much in too little space—the fight is almost too compressed.
Fortunately, things improve as we move to what Stan and Jack might have labeled “Part 2!” of the story. The reader gets a great framing sequence reminding them of who Mudman is and why his story is interesting: Owen has no idea how he got his powers, what they do, or just how dangerous being a superhero can be. Featuring creative use of panels and even narrative boxes, this second section sets up the action for the rest of the comic, gives us character development, and, in complete contrast with the first part, every panel displays just what makes Grist’s art both unique and captivating. Some readers might have a problem with the heavy use of the narrative boxes, but I think they work here, especially since they’re placed within the art itself instead of obscuring it.
Grist has worked hard in this series to show that Mudman has a life beyond his adventures and that pays off in the third section of this comic. An ordinary detention quickly turns deadly as Grist links the first two parts of the comic into a fight scene that not only ties Owen’s friend Newt into the story but also makes great use of the Chekov’s gun idea, both from this issue and prior ones. (Speaking of Chekov, try not to be too angry that Paul Grist forgets how to spell Gene Roddenberry’s classic TV show.) My favorite part of the battle is the completely placid look on the face of the killer bird-spider as it tries to rip Owen and Newt to shreds. I do wonder why Bill Crabtree didn’t adjust the colors for this part, because it’s heavy on green and different hues would have make the action stand out better, I think.
Cleverly placing the coda to this issue after the letters column, Grist sets up further stories with two quick pages that bring everything full circle. Owen is in for more trouble than he’s ready for, a cheerful killer gets added to the cast, and we’re ready for the next issue. This is all done in just
In this era where some arcs bloat over five or six issues without doing much, Paul Grist’s work is a breath of fresh air, showing that a comic can do a lot in just 28 pages. While the art isn’t perfect, Mudman continues to show that sometimes the old ways of storytelling are still the best.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!