It’s Wednesday and that means new comics. Let Deadshirt steer your wallet in the right direction with reviews (with preview pages) of titles out today from Image, Dark Horse, IDW, BOOM! Studios, MonkeyBrain, Oni, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Action Lab, and more!
Steven Universe #1
Written by Jeremy Sorese
Art by Coleman Engle
“Lars and Sadie” by Raven M. Molisee
“Steven Chew-niverse” by Kali Ciesemier
“Birthday Bake Off” by Josceline Fenton
New episodes of Steven Universe won’t air on Cartoon Network until August 21st, but we have the premiere issue of BOOM! Studios’ new comic to whet our appetites right now. Steven Universe is a boy with magical heritage: he’s the only son of Rose Quartz, a mystical warrior known as a Crystal Gem, and he lives with the other Crystal Gems–Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl–in Beach City. Steven loves adventure and is just beginning to harness his powers as a Gem, but he is still in many ways a normal, enthusiastic young boy who loves arcade games and days at the beach. Too bad monsters keep attacking Beach City, huh?
Steven Universe #1 is a fast and fun introduction to the characters and their world. The Crystal Gems are on a mission to contain a cloud monster, and Pearl seems to have it under control until Amethyst’s clowning around puts the team in jeopardy. Series writer Jeremy Sorese has a good ear for the characters’ humor and dynamics: Garnet is taciturn, Pearl is maternal, and Amethyst just wants to have fun. Despite their teasing, the Crystal Gems are a family, and Steven is their heart and soul. It would be easy to fall into the trap of treating Steven like a kid sidekick or team mascot, but Sorese understands Steven’s importance to the group, and that he’s their link to humanity.
Coleman Engle’s artwork has a cartoon-y, block-y style that doesn’t try to rigorously imitate the animated show’s look, but is still charming and cute. There’s a lot of visual humor in this issue, from the New Year’s Eve 2012 glasses Steven hands out, to the running gag of Amethyst making fun of Pearl’s nose every time she shapeshifts. The issue includes three short back-up stories by Raven M. Molisee, Kali Ciesemier, and Joseceline Fenton, and they’re all cute little gag comics that give the issue a more indie, manga-influenced vibe. And while I’m not usually a fan of variant covers, BOOM! Studios has produced a fantastic set of them for this inaugural issue, including a beautiful cover by Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar. Steven Universe #1 is a solid and sunny first issue, perfect for reading at the beach with a Slushie in your hand.
– Kayleigh Hearn
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Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Carlos Magno (pencils) and Marissa Louise (colors)
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
It’s rare that a comic based on film is not only good, but admirable and yet that’s absolutely the case with the second issue of Boom!’s new RoboCop ongoing series, a legitimately refreshing take on one of sci-fi’s most static heroes.
First off: RoboCop, under Magno’s pencil and Louise’s colors, has never looked (or moved) better. Old Detroit is depicted largely in grays and browns–RoboCop himself almost appears to be a living part of the city–and each sequence of extreme violence or emotion is punctuated with bright bursts of color.
Rather than rehash classic RoboCop concepts and plots, Williamson throws us some cool, exciting curveballs: OCP takes a backseat to new villain Killian, an ex-con turned master manipulator whose charisma and ability to see the big picture make him an excellent foil for the stoic, single-minded cyborg law enforcer as RoboCop attempts to facilitate a radical new gun control law he disagrees with but is compelled to enforce. The highlight of this issue, the introduction of Killian’s new “basically refuges from Roadhouse” bad guy running crew, even offers us a rare glimpse of life outside Old Detroit. Williamson’s focus on RoboCop’s non-mechanical partner, Officer Lewis, and her very human dilemma (she’s going for a promotion to Detective, but getting it would mean leaving RoboCop behind) provide this issue with some much needed heart in between sequences of RoboCop chasing down perps and Killian’s Evil Scheming. Lewis and RoboCop’s friendship is central to the 1987 film and it’s nice to see it explored here without cheap melodrama or a tacky romance.
RoboCop is a character known for disappointing sequels, but Boom!’s new title is shaping up to be in the same mercilessly violent, coldly clever spirit as the original Verhoeven film, while offering up enough new storytelling wrinkles to make it a really solid comic in its own right.
– Max Robinson
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Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Michael Lark with Brian Level (assists) and Santi Arcas (colors)
Lettered by Jodi Wynne
Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s dystopian sci-fi family drama presents its first “villain episode,” a standalone issue following Forever Carlyle’s traitorous brother Jonah. Jonah is in some deep water after his failed power grab back in the first storyline, and has fled his family’s territory for that of the rival Hock dynasty that rules North America East of the Mississippi. Jonah is looking to trade Carlyle secrets for asylum in Hock-controlled New York, but he’s seriously overestimated his value and is in for a very rude awakening.
Jonah’s a real shit, an aristocratic sociopath who used to run the nightmarish feudal Los Angeles before he got caught trying to murder his sister and start a bloody war for his personal gain, so at first it’s a pleasure to see him suffer. His first indignities are comical (he gets soaked in sewage, gets mugged by Hock’s soldiers), but as the issue progresses the revenge fantasy wears off and we begin to sympathize with the poor bastard. By the end of the issue, his fate is truly terrifying.
We also get our first look at one of Family Carlyle’s rivals, and learn that there’s more than one brand of fascism, and this one is scarier than theirs. Michael Lark delivers a dark future Manhattan that feels totally different, more sterile and unnerving than the book’s usual Los Angeles setting. Jakob Hock is the Big Bad this book has been waiting for, a cold and manipulative bastard that stands out among a cast of cold, manipulative bastards. Lazarus is ramping up for something big, and if I were you I’d pick up this issue, and the trade paperback of Volume Two that drops next week.
– Dylan Roth
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