Variant Coverage By Ryan Walsh For Comic Carnival
New comics are out! I even had some thoughts about them! Check them out!
•Glow in the Dark Cosmic Cube: Now only 5% likely to achieve child-like sentience and rewrite history so that everything you loved and respected transmutes into a dumpster fire behind the veterinary clinic.
•All-New Fathom 6 (Northcott/ Renna): I realize every escape artist has their own method, their own style to the craft. Call me old-fashioned, but I liked Houdini’s personal flair. He could engage the crowd, he appealed to their excitement more than their fear, and he projected a sense that he could do it himself. Unlike this yutz, who looks like he’ll casually murder an entire orphanage to pull his trick off.
•Bettie Page 1 (Avallone/ Worley): A testament to Page’s unrecognized skill as an actress – she hasn’t been surprised at being seen half-naked since before she started modelling. Bettie just likes to watch people get flustered. [6/10]
Bettie might’ve been comfortable with herself, but most of the trouble in her life can be tracked to other people being decidedly UNcomfortable with her. For instance, the team of FBI agents determined to shut down a photo shoot that end up chasing her straight into the waiting passenger seat of Rick Chaplain, a peacenik that also happens to be a rich industrialist running a compound for world-shaping geniuses and in the market for a pretty assistant. Some odd events captured everyone’s attention at the compound, and whether he wants answers or his own headline in the gossip pool, Chaplain decides on first sight that Bettie’ll fit in just fine. That’d be just fine if everyone else didn’t agree so fast.
The primer text on the inside cover pulls a Julia Child, insisting that the iconic Ms. Page played other, more vital roles in American life than are commonly known. I’m of the opinion that this is more a Princess Bride style of lead-in, but I’ll also admit it grabbed my interest. The dialogue finds sharp edges, and Page’s unflappable sass prove entertaining. The plot does suffer from some gaping holes that don’t get filled by the time the issue ends, and I’m willing to bet they’ll be forgotten.
The art shouldn’t have been any problem. There’s exhaustive source material to draw upon, both for characters and setting. There’s little supernatural or sci-fi influence to even challenge the eye. Sadly, the print job on this issue is a mess. The black ink either got smudge or was applied twice without calibration, making fully half the book barely readable. For a modern publisher, this kind of thing is inexcusable.
Bettie Page reads like an eye doctor’s visit – no matter how much you’d like to focus on something, you simply can’t comprehend everything.
•Catalyst Prime – Superb 1 (Walker & Howard/ Underwood & Gandini): You only think you know the real crime happening here. Figure made of fire standing in the middle of a crater, one could guess property damage, and maybe they wouldn’t be wrong. The truth is much more devious: that flaming-headed jerkwad park their Lamborghini in two handicapped spaces. The two kids are just upholding the law (and another car), they’re executing divine justice!
•Cosmic Commandos 1 (Chris Eliopoulos): I can’t help but wonder (CC Note: This is how the world ends) if kids cereal were actually made from rocket fuel, nuclear material, irradiated stellar matter, alien spores, all of that space crap and more, would the technical names still be easier to pronounce than the chemicals in cereals on Earth.
•Moonstruck 1 (Ellis/ Leth): A centaur waiter, a waitress that’s allowed to work with her cell phone on her, gravity-defying iced tea, all surrounded in a sparkly pink mist. Yep, a concussion caused by something space-station sized could account for this.
•Sisters of Sorrow 1 (Sutter & Alameda/ Kim): So they want to remake Sister Act? Whatever, I don’t have the energy to rage at another Hollywood recycling program. Whoopie Goldberg signed off on the script? That may not’ve been my first concern, and it’s not going to move me, but I respect that anyway. They’ve signed Quentin Tarantino to direct? What?!? Tell me more… [8/10]
The biggest problem with safe spaces is that they’re not always as safe as they should be. The Haven House in Los Angeles serves as a painful example. It shelters victims of domestic violence until they can find someplace else they can go, or their abusers start serving jail time. Leon believed both of those options were unacceptable, so he murdered his way into Haven House to take back his wife Ally. That ends disastrously, but it also teaches the rest of the residents that between them, they’ve got all the skills they need to isolate a target, kill them, and clean the scene. And there are targets that comes straight to mind.
The subject matter’s brutal, there’s no sugar coating that. For all the hijinks potential of the cover, the story itself sticks itself in grounded territory and will not be moved. Though the pacing forces most of the action to flow quickly and the characters don’t have much time to work with, they manage to manifest distinct personalities, priorities, and values which already promise plenty of thrills and conflicts down the road. If anything, the pacing is the biggest threat to the suspension of disbelief, as everything comes together fast and clean. I’d like to say this will come back to bite the players later, but there’s no way to be sure.
Kim’s art style recognizes the importance of anatomy and proportion. It’s how the reader will identify with the characters and more acutely feel what’s happening. Kim also recognizes that there’s only so much intensity realistic proportion and poses can allow, and so abandons it for a looser, wilder composition. This works great when an abuser’s face needs to appear furious and menacing without looking ridiculous, not as well when a victim’s body flips 270 degrees from being shot.
Sisters of Sorrow reads like an AMC show – a gut-wrenching experience that’ll probably draw you in regularly.
•ROM Transformers Shining Armor 1 (Barber & Gage/ Milne): After all the mishaps, misunderstandings, and misplaced explosions the last time these two forces met, you’d think Cybertronians and Spaceknights would set up some policies and procedures to smooth their next meeting. So what could possibly get them visceral like this, guns out and blazing? I won’t spoil it for you, but I will hint that, until his next movie comes out, Gamera’s making ends meet by releasing his own brand of wax.
•Trump vs. Time Lincoln 1 (David Hutchinson): I’m not going to pretend I “get” most political cartoons, but the next person to tell me the artform is dead is getting slapped in the face with this comic.
•Astonishing X-Men 1 (Soule/ Cheung): Did Old Man Logan say “I’ve crapped out tougher mutants than you” in the current timeline? Did he need visual evidence to prove it, because that’s what it looks like he’s doing right here. I don’t think there’s an air freshener on the market that can handle that.
•Clue 2 (Allor/ Daniel): “I-I-I know what this looks like, and I’d be suspicious too, but you’ve got to believe me. I’m not a monster! I would never, ever start an open flame in the library!”
•Generation Gone 1 (Kot & Araujo): “The adenine’s connected to the… thymine! The guanine’s connected to the… cytosine! The cytosine’s connected to my… shoelace! …Whoops.” [9/10]
Mr. Akio runs a branch of DARPA, basically meaning he’s a toymaker with an unlimited budget, so long as the toys are better than anything on the shelf. His personal dream project isn’t an improvement on an existing toy, but an improvement on the player: superhuman ascension via text. Akio’s boss is a military general, basically meaning he says who can play with the toys, and he takes Akio’s away before he can finish it. Completely removed from this exchange are Nick, Elena, and Baldwin, three kids who haven’t gotten to play for a long time. They’ve got a plan to sneak some cash out from the National Bank that no one knows about. Except Mr. Akio, who thinks kids should be able to play too. That may not sound like a bad thing, but keep in mind that most of the toys Akio builds are meant to explode.
If you need a one-word explanation for what this title is about, you could get away with “theft”. From the beginning of the book, the kids (he types, knowing full well they’re in their early 20s), the general, even the utopian scientist all indulge in some form of larceny. Some doubt, others remind themselves of what’s driven them to such actions, and a few just like the idea of taking what isn’t theirs. Few stories about gold-hearted thieves work on the kind of scale as this one, which attacks the idea of generational or evolutionary theft. While it may weigh heavy on a lot of minds, money quickly loses its value when compared to some of the commodities Generation Gone deals with.
The art style relies on realistic proportions to kick off, and comfortably adds cartoony, almost manga-esque touches in order to stick the landing. Somewhere between John Davis-Hunt and Rob G, Araujo creates snapshots of a world that he wants readers to easily recognize, possibly picture themselves in, but at the same time that would allow for miracles as chaotically orchestrated as disasters. The art also wields a capacity to lull the reader into feeling safe, only to pull the rug out and start beating them while they’re on the ground. It knows what mercy is, but doesn’t guarantee it.
Generation Gone reads like 2001 – a sci-fi story that makes you question what being human’s supposed to mean.
See you next week!
Looking for earlier blogs by Ryan Walsh for Comic Carnival? They’re here: Variant Coverage Blog Back Issues