Comic Book Review – Lanza’s Haul 11/14/13
Oh DaYoung Johansson, you had me at “I did it! I’m here.” Ok, that line doesn’t do much to explain her appeal, but she’s already making a dramatic and explosive entry into the comic book universe. Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare’s Kickstarter spawned creation has already latched onto me with its unwavering spunk and charisma. This DaYoung kid is full of piss and vinegar, and so far it’s great reading.
Following up on the first issue of Amy and Brandon’s hugely successful crowd funded book, issue #2 finds DaYoung, a.k.a Rocket Girl, laying down a bit more framework for the time-traveling hijinks we saw last issue.
DaYoung appears to be settling into New York city circa 1986 quite nicely. Her impetuous nature is cranked up to 10 from the start of this book, as we find she’s taking her crime fighting responsibilities very seriously and has been cleaning the riffraff up off the streets. Her new roommates Annie and Ryder have no idea what to do with her, but they seem to think keeping her under wraps is the best course of action and she’s having none of it. The dramatic save of a construction worker falling off the statue of liberty has raised her to superhero status but it’s all in a day’s work for DaYoung.
The first issue introduced us to the mysterious Q engine, a time traveling device that seems to have triggered a technological explosion radically altering the timeline and making 2013 look like something out of Blade Runner. The second issue takes us a step deeper and reveals the powerful group behind the creation of the Q engine but only offers the slightest of hints as to just why DaYoung needs to destroy the device and subsequently the entire future she came from. I expect this will be kept under wraps for a while but already provides compelling reasons to discover why DaYoung is so driven to destroy her present and our future.
To me, this is an interesting concept for a time traveling hero, to go back into the past not only to correct some great wrong but with the intentions of completely erasing the timeline she heralds from. It’s different from the typical “travel back in time, change the past for a better future” schtick. DaYoung seems to want to totally wipe out the future we’re heading towards and dammit, I kinda like it! I know that we haven’t seen all of the implications of what DaYoung is attempting to do in the past or the full extent of shadowy dangers that exist in the “present”, but this is an interesting twist on an old idea.
As always, Reeder’s characters shine and drive the story with their unique personalities and expressions. There’s no cookie cutter characterizations here, and Reeder’s hallmark has always been selling the story through the eyes and emotions of her characters. To me, her artwork has evolved so gracefully and effortlessly from her old Fool’s Gold and Madame Xanadu days, yet you can see how far she’s come in terms of storytelling and making the reader feel as if we’re always just over the character’s shoulder or right there in the room. Reeder’s ability to show exactly what a character is thinking and feeling on every panel is her trademark and you can tell she’s working hard to make each of them unique and easy for the reader to identify with. The comedic aspects of the story are perfectly paced as well, Montclare’s penchant for dry humor is executed perfectly. The oriental store owner screaming “You break you buy!” as a gunfight erupts in his store is priceless. He’s also pulled off the transitions from “past” and “present” nearly seamlessly for the reader, which isn’t easy considering the stark differences between the two realities. But it flows and he has created two worlds that feel tangible and real despite having nothing to do with our reality. I’m especially intrigued by the concept that DaYoung and the future, or present I guess, police officers are teenagers because “it’s grown-ups you can’t trust.” It’s killing me, I must know more!
Well, enough of my gushing. Issue two pushes just far enough into DaYoung’s worlds that we probably think, just maybe, we know where she’s going with all this time traveling good cop stuff, while adding the right amounts of mystery and suspense to keep me pining for #3.
Score 6 (out of 7)Â Rocket Girl’s got the right mix of action, humor and intrigue to keep you wanting more. The 1986 references are pretty great too.
I think Marvel has a problem. They are obsessed with Wolverine babies. It’s as if Logan just isn’t popular enough on his own, what we really need are MORE mutants with claws and a healing factor running around! And so we find ourselves with Savage Wolverine #11.
I like the concept of this title. Much like Avenging Spider-Man, it’s a team-up book without calling it a team-up book and thus evoking the 1970’s stigma of such titles. The first few arcs went well enough (how can you beat Joe Mad’s Elektra issues!), but this current arc with aliens and adolescent Wolvie clones just isn’t doing much for me. It’s like they said “let’s take X-23, mash it with a ten year old Daken and just say it’s aliens this time. That’s the ticket!” I know this arc is not as important to the Marvel U as the legacy of Logan’s other two offspring, but it’s also not interesting enough to warrant your $3.99.
I do give Jock’s art some kudos, it’s gritty and angular and definitely says snickety snick on every panel. His panel composition and flow from page to page is great too. The book feels dark and cold and desperate up until the end. I feel that the resolution of the story was rushed and didn’t leave us with anything interesting enough to need to see it again. But hey, we always have Laura and Daken if we want to know what Logan’s kids would do in a nasty situation.
Score 4 (out of 7) It’s a decent quickie read but won’t leave you wanting to know more about yet another Spawn of Wolverine.
I wonder how many times Brian Wood has watched the original trilogy. It must number in the thousands, because the man knows his Star Wars. And I don’t mean knowledge of facts and tidbits in the SW universe, but he knows its heart and soul. He writes this title as if it’s just what we would have seen on the big screen if the movies were 60 hours long. The result is a love letter to the best movies of our childhood and a damn good comic book.
This issue is still deep in the middle of several different story plots that, while are all interconnected, each provide a great deal of entertainment on their own. We’ve got Luke and Wedge finally hightailing it after infiltrating a Star Destroyer, Han still working with a mysterious smuggler and trying to re-arm the Rebellion, Vader questing for Luke, Leia commanding an elite squad of X-Wing pilots and a super sneaky plot twist to boot. All we’re missing is R2 and C-3PO taking an oil bath.
The best thing about this title is the care and attention Wood gives to every character. They all just feel like our beloved characters, in every word and panel, and so far I’ve not seen him miss a beat. Well, ok, I take that back. The one thing I’m not totally on board with is Luke’s fledgling relationship with fellow X-Wing pilot Prithi. I know it’s necessary to add some romantic tension and I guess we’re all still a little scarred by the fact Luke kissed his sister, but it feels forced to me. But I’m still willing to see where it’s going. Wood is definitely playing the long game on this title however, an although we’re nearly a year into this title there are still plotlines from issue #1 that are ongoing or still thick in the midst.
My biggest issue with any Star Wars title is always the art. It takes a special (or masochistic) kind of person to really get in there and draw every TIE fighter wing panel, or make sure each Star Destroyer has just the right amount of towers and artillery, or hell just to make the characters look like their real life counterparts. D’Anda does an amazing job with all these things however, and he’s got me pouring over every single page marveling at his detail. The man is a craftsman, and it shows in every panel. I’d say his only weakness is with his Vader. So far it looks like a WWE version of Darth, way too buff and his helmet reflections remind me of an 8-bit video game. But overall he’s doing a knockout job with the art chores on this title.
Star Wars is a title that’s very rewarding on many levels. It should satisfy the old school SW fan in you, give you new characters and story possibilities you never thought possible but somehow they just work, all while making you feel 8 years old again. Liking it very much, I am.
Score 6 (out of 7) I heard Brian Wood once completed an issue in 12 parsecs, but I don’t believe that at all.
What did you think about these issues? Let me know in the comments or shoot me a Tweet (@lanzajr26)