Variant Coverage By Ryan Walsh For Comic Carnival
Walking Dead Day was last Saturday and went hauntingly awesome. Now to Wednesday’s comics!
•Runaways 14 (Rowell/ Lafuente): When people walk into pet stores, they see all the love and joy they can have with every animal in the place and they get all goofy and excited. Old Lace the Dinosaur gets the same expression on her face, only she thinks the pet store is an all-you-can-eat buffet. “I love dogs! I just can’t eat a whole one.”
•Captain Ginger 1 (Moore/ Wheeler): “Captain, there’s an anomaly on screen.”
“Is it Klingons? An unstable wormhole? A garden world full of mystery and miracles?”
“It appears to be a small planetoid tethered to a negative gravity well by some form of elastic.”
“…Mr. Che-Korat, arm photon torpedoes, and set them to pat.” [8/10]
The captain and crew of the battleship Indominable have been working together for a little over a year now, and it’s been a rough time due in no small part to none of them being trained space sailors or soldiers. They’re all cats – fierce and clever and relentless – that found themselves hyper-evolved after a calamity that wiped out their caretakers. Now they’re trying to keep one step ahead of a fleet of aggressive ships looking to clean up loose ends and claim as much territory as they can, nail down this whole “chain of command” and “repair” stuff that makes a ship run effectively, and decide between continuing a nomadic life style and settling on the first empty habitat they can find. Turns out life is hard, and nine lives are nine times as hard.
First of all, kitties. Adorable fluff balls all over the place that can use tools just as well as they can walk, which is really quick. Second, hairballs, puke, and food mixed up everywhere, which may turn you off but if it turns you on that’s okay, we don’t kink shame. Third, characterization – it’s beautiful. The cats have all the mental and mechanical capacity of humans on top of all the quirks and “eccentricities” of cats, right down to the particular habits of certain breeds. The story merges a post-apocalypse where all the humans died with a freshly-written reminder that cats weren’t domesticated so much as they decided that having another species feed them and clean after them was okay.
The artwork is reminiscent of Neal Adams in that it has the dynamic poses, the range of expressions, and the consistency of physical traits, only everything is cats. There’s a starching post on the bridge that serves as a shortcut between decks, along with a few dozen tiny nods that this is a place that’s been adapted for cats and kittens of all types and ages. The inclusion of such “primitive” mechanisms in the design help to ground the architecture of the place as a body with a whole mess of systems that each need specific attention, as well as chances for feline friends to struct their stuff.
Captain Ginger reads like a tchotchke that grabs your attention – even if its not your thing, you probably know someone that needs it in their lives.
•Lucifer 1 (Waters/ Max & Sebastian Fiumara): “Will Sin for Food”? I knew times were tough, but the King of Lies begging on the street? This is a guy that sinned for giggles. He brought misery and woe to millions and wrote the episodes off as a “teaching/ testing moments”. Lucifer tried to separate a child from his divine father for all time just because said dad treated him like kind of a jerk one time. And now this brilliant artist of vice is reduced to, I don’t know, kicking puppies for a hot dog? Fund and support the arts, people!
•Ogre 1 of 3 (Salley/ Daley): “Listen, I’m not just a ghost pestering people to occupy the rest of all time, I’m YOUR ghost pestering you for all time because I’m worried about you. I can tell you’re lonely, but hitting someone unconscious and carrying them back to your cave is not the way to fix that.”
“She’s not for me. I’ll be sacrificing her in an unholy ritual later.”
“Because I can tell your lonely, and ripping a soul from living flesh will fix that.”
“…*sniff* I forget how sweet you can be sometimes.”
•What If? Ghost Rider 1 (Girner/ Wijngaard): Okay, so I guess the Avengers were going up against something bad but also vulnerable to music (I’m thinking a giant Blue Meanie, but honestly I think about them too much already), so they decide to create a role they’ve never needed before: a bard. And I guess Robbie Reyes had some points on there before specing himself as a half-demon, which brings us right to this scene. I already don’t like this book because what chance is there that it’ll be as metal as that!?
•Shuri 1 (Okorafor/ Romero): Shuri getting her own comic book is great. A lot of characters want to be on the cover for the prestige, but that’s not what Shuri’s in this for. She’s doing this so she can throw out the cross – which Chadwick Boseman has taken damage over for not doing it perfectly every time – so she can keep the meme going. [8/10]
Shuri, sister of T’Challa and shaman loyal to the Black Panther, is on her second life and pays close attention to finding as much joy in it as her first one. She continues to invent things at a pace Olympic sprinters aspire to, sneak in doe-eyed glances with her boyfriend (a teleporter and real live wizard), and balance all that with her duties as living bridge between the mortal world and the collected memory of Wakanda throughout its multi-millennial lifetime. She’s painted herself into something of a corner, as she just launched her brother and her boyfriend on Wakanda’s first space vehicle on a mission to study an unstable wormhole detective in Earth’s general vicinity. It was supposed to be a two-day mission, but it’s been two weeks since they’ve made contact. Wakanda needs to appear strong before the world, and its citizens must be able to trust its leaders, and so a small Congress of representatives from Wakanda’s many walks of life ask Shuri to show up and provide input. They plan on Shuri providing a few more things once she arrives.
Readers of Coates’ first volume of Black Panther will see right away a few character changes from that Shuri’s stoic, enlightened mannerisms. This shamelessly tries to marry that Shuri with the techno-prodigy, meme-spreading, free-spirited Shuri from the MCU. I wanted to hate it for trying to force a square peg into a round hole, but instead I must admit that they made it work. It’s as much about Shuri’s re-acclimation into the living world as much as political intrigue and heading off a potential Game of Thrones at the pass. Even crazier – all these elements coalesce together so easily and natural one might miss the transition. It’s just another day in the life of royalty to the most advanced and eldest society on Earth.
Visually, the book supports the playfulness of the narrative along with the grounded nature of Shuri’s role in the world. The construction of the buildings and prototypes Shuri develops all remind the reader of the sci-fi utopias in their imaginations, while the scale and proportions all line up with reality. Facial expressions don’t go to extreme levels in either direction, yet there’s a wide spectrum that it plays with. It’s a book that tries to look nice even when things aren’t.
Shuri reads like a high-end cupcake – cynicism demands you to be skeptical and not expect to get your money’s worth but then you try it and just want to buy three more.
•Darth Vader 22 (Soule/ Bonetti): “Alas, poor Y0-R1K! I knew him, Captured Rebel. A droid of infinite processing, with no sense of humor. He hath calculated light speed trajectories for me a thousand times, and now, how intolerably slow my travel lengths are. My anger rises at it. Here hung those speakers that vectored for me I know not how oft.”
•A Million Ways to Die Hard 1 (Tieri/ Texiera): The reason he’s scowling like this is because, over the last 30 years, he’s actually had a million close calls. Granted, most of the time it’s stuff like choking on a sandwich, the day-long struggles with criminal masterminds are as gentle on him as a meat grinder are colorful exceptions. After a while, coworkers of his posted a list and a counter and the thing went viral, and they’ve been planning a surprise party to celebrate the one-millionth way to die. Two things about John McClain – 1) He’s a New York PD detective, so you can’t get up early enough in the morning to sneak stuff by him, and 2) He really, REALLY doesn’t like surprise parties.
•Dragon Age Deception 1 (Defillipis & Weir/ Furukawa & Atiyeh): Okay we all get it, weapons hidden in hair, ha ha it’s hilarious. Have you ever gotten stuck by a hat pin? By a stick of metal sharp enough to pierce flesh but too thick to fully stab? Stuck by something more likely to pry the skin from the flesh with all the delicacy of a full-size crowbar? I’m not trying to shame you for laughing at the idea, just understand that to some people will want to cry for their own reasons, and you shouldn’t shame them either.
•The Unstoppable Wasp 1 (Whitley/ Gurihiru): It’s a cheap power play to invite someone strange to your office just so you can tell who’s reading the daily memos and who isn’t, but it’s pretty clear which one immediately flips the page over and doodles on it all day, never even glancing at the printed text.
•Batman 57 (King/ Daniel): So I get that he doesn’t like the Christmas song about him having BO and his car breaking down, but this is one those moments where he needs to accept responsibility. He’s in a worn out suit that’s probably spent time in a sewer and he’s walking through the snow when he’s supposed to have a small tank at his beck and call. Brucie, baby, you gotta live the life you want! [7/10]
Nightwing’s been shot in the head. All the signs point to an elite assassin with the codename KGBeast, who aside from being humorless and as focused as John Wick, has an aggressive philosophy when it comes to survival. Last time he went up against the Dark Knight, he chewed his own arm off to escape. This time the Batman’s not just looking for information or to stop a scheme, he just wants plain old fashioned vengeance. And if it plays out, someone to work out his anger through, via that classic style of beating the crap out of someone.
This is last chapter in the KGBeast arc, and will ultimately be the catalyst for Nightwing’s new look coming soon. It’s also mostly about two epic-level fighters pounding each other into stains on fresh snow. Perhaps more of milestone, it’s where Batman recognized the loophole in his code to never kill, and became a lot more comfortable breaking foes. This is a rather sinister turn for the character in that now he’s graduated from never killing to exploring ways to make a person wish he’d killed them. I may be reading too much into this, or this could be a thread that pops back up in the future, either way it’s an intense read.
Tony Daniel continues to supply his figures with just exaggerated features and bulk, fight scenes that try to look classy as well as brutal, and knowledge of how to pace a whole sequence properly. He knows how to block a scene so that a graze looks like a killing blow in one panel, only for a concussive counter attack to launch in the next. Again, this issue proves to be an extended fight sequence, put it’s one with high production values.
Batman reads like the grand battle in a kung fu flick – by this point the plot doesn’t go any deeper than Guy A and Guy B fighting, but the execution lets them get away with it.
•The Source 1 (Handfield/ Carvalho): Because everything’s made of burnt skulls. (CC Note: I thought that was suns.) I’m thinking it’s a metaphorical thingie, like we call just about anything in space a stellar body, and the stars are the heads of those bodies. (CC Note: That makes sense AND disturbs me at the same time.) I hear that a lot.
See you next week!
Looking for earlier blogs by Ryan Walsh for Comic Carnival? They’re here: Variant Coverage Blog Back Issues