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, Archie, MonkeyBrain, Oni, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Action Lab, and more!
Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #2
Written by Tom Scioli and John Barber
Art by Tom Scioli
Lettered by Tom Scioli
Transformers vs. G.I.Joe laughs in the face of decompression. Issue #0 maimed Snake Eyes, killed Bumblebee and Cobra Commander, and informed the Transformers about Earth. Issue #1 saw the Decepticons launch a full scale invasion of Earth that was largely rebuffed. Here, G.I. Joe, commanded by Scarlett, returns the favor with interest, carpet-bombing Cybertron and tangling with the full strength of the Decepticon fleet.
Scioli and Barber masterfully manage their vast cast with strong characterization and oodles of captions (never overwhelming). Despite their thus-far secondary role, the Transformers of this universe are emerging as their own distinct culture. The Decepticons ride around in the dinosaurian fortress Trypticon and casually oppress the ghettoized Autobots. Scourge’s effusive praise of Megatron is just off-kilter enough to have a glorious pulp quality: “Decepticon God-Emperor, Tamer of Trypticon, Prime-Slayer…”
The Joes themselves don’t seem as radically changed, since they are the reader surrogates. The “Star Brigade” and their gung-ho invasion of Cybertron is a lot of fun, feeling like a more testosterone-charged version of Stargate: SG-1. The issue hints at the recurrence of an underutilized theme–that the advent of the short-lived humans into their conflict is a shot in the arm that will lead to the overturning of millions of years of decadent injustice. But for now, let’s enjoy the mayhem-packed splash pages, geeky references to thirty-year-old characters and toy features, and the glorious friendly-fire confusion of a bunch of psycho special ops guys invading a planet they know nothing about.
– Patrick Stinson
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Written by Jim Zub
Art by Steve Cummings (pencils), John Rauch and Jim Zub (colors)
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
Wayward follows the story of Rori Lane, a teenager whose life has just been relocated from Ireland to Tokyo, where she plans to live with her mom. The premise sounds like a sad transnational divorce story until Rori casually discovers she has super powers and runs into a group of monsters disguised as street thugs. It’s pretty tempting to call this another Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but this comic is incorporating a real location and actual mythology, so I expect this story to be completely its own.
My favorite part of this comic so far is the vibrant representation of Tokyo; the artwork nails the city’s aesthetic right down to the street grates and the ever-present vending machines. The best part about this place is its mashup of the old and modern, and that concept bleeds nicely into the story itself. Simply arriving on the streets of Tokyo awakened a power in Rori that shows her future paths through the city (and also seems to attract mythological creatures and friendly cat people).
This premiere issue has only given us a glimpse of things to come, but I’m looking forward to it, especially considering each issue promises to end with an essay about Japan’s culture and mythology. Also included was a monster profile featuring the “turtle-heads” (who are more Bebop/Rocksteady than Teenage/Ninja) to drop even more knowledge on the readers. There was a little hint that there’s more to Rori’s experiences with her dad in Ireland, so I’m hoping for some Irish folklore to creep up in the story as well. It’s great to see that we’re not only getting a comic with a multiracial monster-fighting female, but, hey, we might actually learn something!
– Sarah Register
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Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #15
Written by Chris Mowry
Art by Matt Frank, Mostafa Moussa (ink assists), Priscilla Tramontano (colors)
Lettered by Shawn Lee
This feels like a comic with a new lease on life. After the first arc, which was supposed to be all this comic ever got, they were renewed as a de facto ongoing series. The new story boldly jumps forward four years to let the kaiju-blasted world settle into a shaky status quo, before blowing it apart again.
I can’t say enough about Matt Frank’s art here. The challenge of a kaiju comic has emerged as keeping a strong sense of storytelling despite the draw of the comic being wordless animals far too large to interact directly with the characters. IDW’s other Godzilla series have compensated by finding ways to involve humans more closely in the action, for better for worse. Frank and Mowry’s approach is more similar to a classic kaiju movie: when appropriate, kaiju introduce a new phase of story with an extended, near-wordless interlude. The results of Frank pushing himself to put us inside Godzilla’s head (including here nearly half a page of just his eye and mouth movements) are spectacular.
The story itself is a colorful and creative blending of elements from older IDW continuity and, in a meta sense, from the film series. Godzilla facing off against four 1970s-style Mechagodzillas is spectacular enough on the page, but if you know the old films and appreciate how terrifyingly powerful the 70s alien-designed Mechagodzilla was, you realize that what is depicted here might be Godzilla’s hardest fight of all time! And if you started from the beginning of IDW’s Godzilla revival, you realize how bad it is that the psychic twins are alive and allied to the alien commander from Rulers of Earth’s first arc. The final pages tease a return and possibly a definitive depiction of one of Godzilla’s most iconic yet little-used foes in the next issues.
– Patrick Stinson
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Story by Curt Pires
Art by Jason Copland and Pete Toms (colors)
Design and Cover by Dylan Todd
As exciting as it’s been to see big name creators taking a break from the Big Two to experiment wildly at Image, it’s refreshing to see a new title from some lesser known talent. Pop is exactly the type of title you expect from modern Image, in the best possible way. A simple premise, that the many pop stars of the world are actually genetically engineered by a nefarious organization, is a sharp starting point, and the inciting incident in this first issue, one of those stars escaping, gives a thrilling sense of immediacy. Pires wastes precious little time setting up this world and its inhabitants, writing with a shrewd sense of economy that exudes an Ales Kot-y confidence, Copland’s art calls to mind David Mazzuchelli’s line work. His storytelling style and panel breakdowns are reminiscent of David Lapham’s Young Liars.
The main thrust of the series seems like it’ll center on Elle, the escaped pop star, and Coop, the suicidal man she runs into and hides out with. Their initial meet-cute seems designed to evoke The Fifth Element, but that nostalgic riffage feels right in a book I expect to prop its “on the run” narrative up to skewer the current pop culturual landscape. I still want to learn more about the central villain, but I suppose that desire means this team did their jobs right. Buy this comic, if for nothing other than the opportunity to see two shady and violent operates shoot a Justin Bieber pastiche in the kneecaps. Also, Dylan Todd’s design work makes this one of the most striking packages on the market. Seek it out.
– Dominic Griffin
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