Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more. For more of our thoughts on this week’s new comics, take a look at Wednesday’s Deadshirt Comics Shopping List.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Alex Maleev
Colored by Paul Mounts
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramanga
“Blasters are for suckers.”
Heist plots are fun as hell, and it’s no wonder that whenever someone tries one out in the Star Wars universe, Lando Calrissian is at the center of it. Introduced in Empire Strikes Back as a potential replacement scoundrel with a heart of gold in case Harrison Ford decided to bail, he’s a great character that thankfully gets thrust to the forefront with his own mini-series. Heavily in debt to a gangster, Lando and his main man/robot Lobot think they’ve just pulled a score that’ll get them out from under it. Of course, this only buys them their way into another heist that’s even more dangerous.
Like the other writers on Marvel’s so far stellar foray into the Star Wars universe, Charles Soule gets the voices of these characters down right away. You can hear Billy Dee Williams’s velvet cadence in every line spoken by Lando, and it sells it immediately. Other than Lando, (and Lobot, though he’s practically a new character since he didn’t speak a single line in Empire) all the other characters here are brand new, and it helps keep the book fresh. As Lando assembles his team, they all fall into the familiar heist movie archetypes (fighter, forger, tech guy, and face man) but seem just different enough to feel new, and more important, they feel “Star Wars-y.” The plot of the issue is tight, and while it launches the plot for the series, it’s a full story in itself which is rare for comics these days and should be applauded.
The art is a big stumbling point for this book. I’ve been a big fan of Alex Maleev’s work, but it feels very rushed here. The first few pages of the issue are lush and detailed as Lando runs his initial con, but as the issue goes on the faces get mushy and he slathers on the blacks in lieu of backgrounds. Paul Mounts does great work covering up on the lack of backgrounds in places with his painterly colors, but it just can’t save the back half of the book from looking unfinished. It may have just been that Maleev didn’t have the time with all four issues of this book coming out in two months, but I hope that the art will improve going forward. It doesn’t kill the book, but it’s not up to the standards of what Maleev has done before.
While I had issues with the art, overall Lando is a great addition to Marvel’s Star Wars line. Heist plots are nothing new to the Star Wars universe (see the recent, and terribly boring novel Scoundrels), but this book really gets it right. The comic is light and fun, but makes no doubt that there’s danger lurking just around the corner.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Dennis Hopeless
Art by Javier Garron
Colored by Chris Sotomayor
Lettered by Joe Sabino
“Grab your starred garters and hoary hosts, gentlemen. It’s time to tussle.”
Inferno is a big blockbuster comic, with bombastic set pieces and lots of folks getting blown up or eaten. It’s fun and I’m in it for the long haul, but it’s also hitting a little bit of a lull before we move into the final act of the story. One thing I’ve noticed about Secret Wars tie-ins is that a good number of them rely on cliffhanger endings, usually something along the lines of “we have to call in the big guns” or “I’m back…and you’ll never guess who I brought with me,” followed by a final page of a Sentinel or the Sinister Six or some other threat. We didn’t quite get that here, but there’s a level of predictability across the board that’s becoming a little tiresome.
That’s not to say there isn’t anything to like in the book! Hopeless’ Madelyne Pryor is always a hoot, and this issue especially gave Garron and Sotomayor plenty to play with in terms of designs and battle scenes. The huge roster of X-Men is rife with cool designs, and the inclusion of characters like Vision (looking phenomenal) and Doctor Strange is an interesting choice. X-Men fighting demons is right up there with X-Men fighting aliens for me, and Garron keeps the battles both intricate and readable.
All in all, I liked this comic, and I don’t want to bag on it purely because I’ve seen a lot of the beats elsewhere. At the same time, it didn’t exactly have the kick I was hoping for, but I’m definitely sticking around to see how it all ends.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading…
Written by Noelle Stevenson
Art by Sanford Greene
Colored by John Rauch
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
“She’s dead. This isn’t a simulation. This is…real.”
The original Runaways series created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona holds a special place in my heart. The story of a group of superpowered teenagers running away from their supervillain parents, Runaways was a vibrant, witty, original series, but also has the complicated legacy of being a short-lived, influential cult classic, rather than a major Marvel Comics bestseller. When it was announced that there was going to be a new Runaways miniseries for Secret Wars, my heart did a few emotional flip-flops over the book returning, but with a rebooted premise and a mostly new cast. So, to get it out of the way, no, this isn’t _my_ Runaways, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have the same impact on new readers.
The new Runaways are a motley crew of teenagers gathered from the domains of Battleworld to attend the Victor Von Doom Institute for Gifted Youths, including Jubilee, Cloak, Skaar, Amadeus Cho, and the only returning original runaway, Molly Hayes. When the teens discover that their “final exam” includes killing their fellow students, what else can they do but, well, run? The big draw for this book is the writing by Noelle Stevenson, who, as the creator of Nimona, knows a few things about complicated teenage protagonists. Her characterization of Jubilee as a queer teenage rule-breaker with her own girl gang already feels more believable than the “Jubilee: Vampire Teen Mom” portrayal we’ve had for a couple years now. Artist Sanford Greene is skilled at fast-moving fight scenes and sulky teenage facial expressions, but unfortunately he makes Molly Hayes look more like a toothy little gremlin than an eleven-year-old girl.
With its premise of teenagers pitted against each other, and then rebelling to fight a tyrannical system, Runaways could sit comfortably on the shelves next to young adult hot properties The Hunger Games and Divergent. If not for the complicated continuity baggage of the entire Secret Wars saga, I would have no problem recommending Runaways to new readers. After all these years, it’s nice to see the Runaways still running.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!