Variant Coverage – April 9th, 2014

I smell the dust floatin’ off the rain, baking in the sun. I know my time has come.

(CC Note: Uhhhhh….)

The street gets empty right quick when I step up, ‘cept for the poor fool thinks he knows better.

(CC Note: Oh crap, have you been watching Westerns again?)

I feel the weight at my hip. One bag, six books. Six shots. Six chances to make things right and put the week before me down. Tricky thing, these six shots, I gotta lay ‘em all out like they was one – fast as I can may not be fast enough.

(CC Note: Or is this Justified? Did you binge-watch on Netflix again? Who was supposed to be watching him? Seriously, we have a schedule for a REASON, people!!)

Flash Gordon 1 (Parker/ Shaner): This book reads like I shoot – no time for small talk, ‘cause any second now a fleet of warbirds is gonna rain down from the heavens and scorch this ball of rock I call home. Okay, it’s not really like how I shoot, but it does read like somebody had somewhere to go, so they dropped off a few notes at the artist’s house. The problem is, they weren’t in order, or all there. (7/10)
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The reader gets a page or two each of the big three in their lives on Earth: Dale Arden’s a reporter working the science beat and frustrated there’s no one making science news; Dr. Zarkov has finally learned how to use his loosely-anchored morals to pursue his scientific endeavors; Alex “Flash” Gordon is an accomplished thrill-seeker with a father tired of waiting for his heir to develop a career. An abrupt jump brings the reader to a tense air-battle and introduces us to Ming the Conqueror, a leader lacking tolerance for excuses.

This was too worried about the getting too much of the source material in place, and not worried enough about producing something a reader can follow. It is pretty, though, and that counts.

Iron Fist The Living Weapon 1 (Kaare Andrews): The critical and commerical success of the last volume (by Fraction and Aja, largely) didn’t focus on any part of Daniel Rand’s life, but went for a comprehensive view of his life as a champion of a mystical city, a vigilante, and friend, a lover, a businessman, and a philanthropist. This volume, right out of the gate, focuses directly on what it means to be a living weapon, an instrument of death. It respects what came before, but it’s doing something different, and I respect that a lot. (8/10)
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Danny Rand’s in something of a slump. He’s trying what people try, and it isn’t helping. But when Danny’s set upon by ninjas, attack ‘copters, and cyborgs, he doesn’t feel slumped. It’s not the kind of thing that would make much sense to the average person, but the whole point of the story is that Danny’s not average.

This is a singular kind of read. It’s content is 100% the product of Kaare Andrews, who I first noticed through his wild homage covers to The Incredible Hulk. The whimsy is there, but it takes a back seat to the tension in this book, setting Danny up as a coiled spring ready to explode at the right trigger. At one point in this book, Iron Fist takes down two helicopters with one punch – so yeah, the trigger’s pulled, but the tension doesn’t quite go away.

This doesn’t follow the kind of beats that most comics follow, but it reads and flows more like a piece of art than anything else. Definitely give it a look.

All-New Doop 1 (Milligan/ Lafuente): The geeky gerkin introduced to us back in Milligan’s X-Force comes into his own book this week, following a minor role in Aaron’s Wolverine & the X-Men. True to form, neither Doop or his creator show what you’d expect, or go in directions that appear on a map. It’s not the kind of story you may have wanted when you saw the ad or looked at the cover, but if you can learn to relax and enjoy the ride, it’s pretty fun anyway. (8/10)
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Doop is a marginal character. That’s not an opinion or editorial, it’s directly stated that he’s most effective when he’s working off to the side, letting other people do most of the work, nudging or dropping hints when they’ll be effective. That seems directly opposed to an entire series about him, but that’s not the only change he’s looking to make in his life. While other artists, like his original Mike Allred, are fine with emphasizing his more gross, non-human attributes, Lafuente’s concerned with making him look approachable, involved, almost lovable. If you read the issue, you’ll understand why.

Not an action comic, not a romance comic, not a suspense comic, but it’s really really cute. Look through it, if you see something in passing that catches your eye, you’ll find it’s worth the cover price.

Shutter 1 (Keatinge/ Del Duca): The cover and advertisements for this might lead a reader to think this is about a wide-eyed woman lost in a world of monsters and aliens, but the real truth is that the woman lives in a world a lot like ours. She misses her dead father, she gets awkward at surprise social interactions, and she doesn’t like her private time encroached upon. It just so happens that the world she’s in also has lizard people, ghost ninjas, and steam-powered automatons. Cool, huh? (8/10)
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Kate Kristopher is the latest in a long line of explorers in a world the never runs out of things to discover, yet she retired at the age of 17. She’d written her share of books, had her fifteen minutes, and might be willing to settle into enjoying her adulthood in whatever way is convenient. Someone’s not willing to leave it at that. There’s a deep sense of mystery in this book, between the endless hallways of artifacts and the unknown family branches, and yet the things we expect to spark drama and the unknown, like gods descending on the land and different species cohabitating, are so immediately comfortable that it’s hard to say what’s supposed to be mysterious.

This book is an engrossing read, though the biggest mystery may be pointing to the exact reason it draws the reader in so well.

Batman Eternal 1 (Snyder/ Tynion IV): Batman and the Gotham City Police Department have never had an easy relationship. When they’ve fought, it was usually Batman that was on the defensive. So when cameras show Commissioner James Gordon shooting at an unarmed suspect, and as a result killing hundreds of innocent civilians, even Batman’s not completely sure how to proceed. (7/10)
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Both Snyder and Tynion have been playing with Batman for a while now, so they’re comfortable with how to handle things. There’s no performance anxiety to worry about, no poses for the sake of poses or one-liners for the sake of one-liners. What starts off as the classic throw-down between masked villain and masked vigilante quickly turns into a worst-case scenario where the most respected man on the force is put on trial.

This may not be the amazing, ground-shaking event that’ll get audiences foaming at the mouth, but it’ll satisfy most readers.

Deadpool 27 (Everyone that’s ever worked on Deadpool, or close enough!): Between the single-issue and digital series, there are two major plotlines that find their conclusion in this one massively oversized issue – the wedding of Deadpool. This one counts, and it counts so hard there are a bunch of little stories about all the other weddings Deadpool has been in that don’t count, just to make this one count harder. If it counted any more, it’d wear a black cape and be on Sesame Street(9/10)
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Deadpool has found someone that loves all of him – his looks, his sense of humor, his murderous sociopathy, his obsession with mexican food, everything. She’s a high-ranking demon from the depths of hell, but she’s friendly enough. The ceremony itself is pretty free of hijinks or surprise guest explosions, but fear not, there are plenty of those in the shorts, produced by the top teams that made Deadpool’s legend in volumes past.

This issue is a great value with a touching main story, a plethora of amusing shorts, and makes for a wonderful on-issue testament as to why and how the Merc’ with a Mouth has endured as long as he has.

My load’s spent. My brass’s kissing the dirt. And having met the week on the lonely road, I’m the one turning and walking away. No wonder I feel like a winner.

Looking for older Variant Coverage Blogs by Ryan Walsh for Comic Carnival?  They’re here: Variant Coverage Blog Back Issues

Variant Coverage Review Blog by Ryan Walsh for Comic Carnival
Variant Coverage Review Blog by Ryan Walsh for Comic Carnival
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