It’s Wednesday and that means new comics. Let Deadshirt steer your wallet in the right direction with reviews (and preview pages) of titles out today from Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Boom! Studios, Archie, MonkeyBrain, Oni, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Action Lab, and more!
Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift #1
Written by Meredith Gran
Art by Carey Pietsch
All is not well in the land of Ooo. Marceline’s songwriting has hit a wall, and she thinks her songs are pointless, boring, and bad—“throw her notebook down and pour soda over it” bad. Meanwhile, her longtime friend Princess Bubblegum is facing a big confrontation with an enemy kingdom. These seemingly unrelated problems are pushed aside, however, when Marceline is zapped by a mysterious power that threatens everyone around her. Will Marceline have to leave Ooo—forever?
Marceline Gone Adrift marks Meredith Gran’s return to Adventure Time comics following the success of her 2012 miniseries Marceline and the Scream Queens. This new mini doesn’t appear to be a direct sequel, but rather a dramatic new adventure for Marceline and Bubblegum that will take them places they’ve never been before. (Not an easy thing to say, considering how Adventure Time has significantly widened the scope of its universe in its fifth and sixth seasons.) Gran adeptly captures the pathos and humor in Marceline’s struggles as an artist (who also happens to be an immortal vampire queen, no big deal) as well as Bubblegum’s cold, but not completely heartless practicality.
Carey Pietsch’s cute artwork is jam-packed with a lot of adorable little details, like the pattern on Finn’s apron or the posters on Marceline and Bubblegum’s walls. There’s a nice attention to detail here that makes Marceline Gone Adrift feel special, and not just a by-the-numbers recreation of the show’s look. Gran and Pietsch have crafted a cute and promising first issue, and I‘m anticipating Marceline’s next stop on her new world tour.
– Kayleigh Hearn
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BOOM! Box Mix Tape #1
Written by Rian Sygh, Ryan North, Alexis Ziritt, Shannon Watters, Becca Tobin, John Kovalic, Rosemary Mosco, Eryk Donovan, Noelle Stevenson, Madeleine Flores, Stefan Tosheff, Jake Lawrence, Dave McElfatrick, Rob DenBleyker, Kris Wilson, and Paul Maybury
Art by Rian Sygh, Braden Lamb, Alexis Ziritt, Kendra Wells, Becca Tobin, John Kovalic, Rosemary Mosco, Eryk Donovan, Carey Pietsch, Madeleine Flores, Stefan Tosheff, Jake Lawrence, Dave McElfatrick, Rob DenBleyker, Kris Wilson, and Paul Maybury
This is a whopper of a book right here. The first anthology from BOOM!’s Box imprint, it features over a dozen stories of varying length from a variety of creators, both those with long BOOM! records and newer talent. It’s similar to Dark Horse Presents in size and format, but what sets it apart is a unity and clarity of tone not always common to anthologies like this. Anchored by shorts featuring properties like Teen Dog and Lumberjanes, the book has a fun, breezy air that I’ve come to associate with a lot of BOOM!’s output.
For ongoing properties, this book was a chance to focus on side characters or fun gags. The Teen Dog section by Jake Lawrence was a clever bit focusing on everyone’ favorite hater, Thug Pug. It’s quick and funny, and a decent introduction to the book for new fans. “A Girl and Her Raptor” (written by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters, art by Carey Pietsch) is an early birthday present to me featuring my favorite (and the best) Lumberjane, Ripley. It’s silly and sweet and has a dinosaur in it, so it’s basically perfect.
There’s also plenty of clever one-offs in here, from shorts that seem likely to recur, like Rian Sygh’s “Hambourgeois and Chip,” to others that feel like illustrated Twitter gags (as someone who spends most of his time on that site, this is high praise). “Misunderstood Haunted House”, by Shannon Watters and Kendra Wells, and Rosemary Mosco’s “Animals are Pretty Weird, Y’all” are particularly delightful, the kinds of fun shorts I could see making waves on tumblr and other social media. Overall, it’s a solid anthology, and I’m glad BOOM! is spotlighting their considerable talent pool this way.
– Joe Stando
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Star Trek #40
Written by Mike Johnson
Art by Tony Shasteen
Colored by Davide Mastrolonardo
Lettered by Neil Uyetake
This is the final issue of the six-part storyline “The Q Gambit.” The first issue of that storyline blazed out of the gate with a gallop; this one manages a gentle trot with a slight limp. The potential of a massive storyline bouncing through time and space featuring The Next Generation’s omnipotent trickster and the new movie crew was just about limitless, but what we got was more of an extended crossover with the cast of Deep Space Nine.
This isn’t a bad thing, as Deep Space Nine is one of the greatest parts of the Star Trek franchise. But Johnson’s use of the DS9 characters doesn’t follow any sort of internal logic. As usual for Star Trek alternate universes, we are expected to accept that despite changes to the timeline, all of the same people get born and look basically the same. Some of them, such as Sisko, Odo, Kira, and Miles O’Brien, even act the same, though their personal histories are wildly different. But other people–Quark, Keiko O’Brien, the Jem’Hadar–act wildly out of character, which begs the question of why to use them at all.
Then there’s Dukat. Using him as the ultimate villain who can threaten even the Q is a bold but justified move, given that Dukat on his worst day is ten times the character that Khan is. Unfortunately, Johnson’s Dukat is indeed on his worst day, being borrowed from the widely derided seventh season “insane supervillain” portrayal of the character. There’s no reason why this successful alternate version of Dukat should have degraded to this point.
Anyway, the execution of this final issue is still solid. I don’t envy anyone writing the final issue of a twisty crossover, as it has to retroactively justify all the shenanigans that got to this point and provide a satisfying ending to the whole thing. The plot mechanics are reasonably solid—Q has actually been using his ability to time travel to fight the extradimensional “wraiths” from DS9, and needs Kirk’s help because he can’t use his powers in their wormhole home…which actually makes sense given that Q does have to travel at warp just like everyone else, and there’s only one way in and out of a wormhole. Typically, Q hasn’t really thought his plan through enough, which gives Spock—conspicuously sidelined until now—a chance to shine, in what might be an intentional homage to the Spock vs. Q CD.
Still, to me, the narrative wrap-up was only partly satisfying, given that it’s more of a Doctor Who ending than a Star Trek ending. By which I mean it relies on narrative and literary logic, rather than diplomatic and scientific logic. Overall, “The Q Gambit” is an ambitious and worthy effort that, if nothing else, got me paying attention to Star Trek comics again. Johnson is very savvy in exploring territory that the film franchise dare not Boldly Go.
– Patrick Stinson
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