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!
Rocketeer at War #1
Written by Marc Guggenheim
Art by Dave Bullock and Ronda Pattison (colors)
Lettered by Gilberto Lazcano
Prose story by Lisa Norton
I’m pretty split on this comic. On the one hand, it’s a solid premise, and an interesting start, but on the other, it’s not much more than that. It’s 1942, and Cliff Secord has given up his high-flying heroics to enlist in the Army. He’s also donated his Rocketeer gear to the war effort, hoping to provide something of use to the Allies. But the Axis powers conspire to steal the Rocketeer gear, and he’s forced to suit up and go back into action, fighting against Nazi spies in glider suits and (presumably) the death ray that the Axis scientists have discovered.
It’s not a bad story idea, and it’s pretty restrained and grounded thus far. Both visually and tonally, it reminds me a lot of DC: The New Frontier, as a story that juxtaposes Golden Age superheroics with the very real wars going on in the same era. It’s believable enough as a war story, albeit one with jetpacks and flight suits. But since it’s never going to be a truly grounded, serious WWII story, I sort of wish they’d gone more crazy with it. The comic establishes that only Cliff can fly the jetpack safely, but I‘d rather see troops of Rocketeers fighting on the front lines, and other sci-fi stuff. Leaning into the alternate history vibe has always been a plus for me, not a minus.
The inclusion of a prose story in the latter half of the issue feels off as well, not because it isn’t good (it is), but because it’s shifting gears so much. I can’t help but think it feels like filler, especially when Bullock’s art already feels underutilized in the main story. All that being said, there’s still a lot to like here, from Bullock’s vibrant character designs and pinup work to the amiable charm of Secord. It’s rough, but there’s a spark there, and hopefully it’ll go full-tilt next time so I can recommend it a little more highly.
(Click thumbnails to enlarge.)
Venus #1 (of 4)
Written by Rick Loverd
Art by Huang Danlan
Color by Marcio Menyz
Lettered by Colin Bell
With films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Martian dominating the box office, Americans are getting excited about outer space again, meaning it’s probably the perfect time for an original interplanetary comic book adventure. BOOM! Studios delivers yet another successful new title as Venus hits the ground running with the most adrenaline-driven premiere issue I’ve read this year. In this futuristic story, the space race has turned into a colonizing contest; other countries have already taken Mars, so the good old US of A shotties Venus with a mission that seems more about publicity than safety. Obviously, everything goes wrong.
I hate to draw parallels to The Martian, but it’s too tempting. This is a story about a witty cast of characters that has to find a way to survive on an alien planet, after all. But if you liked the sarcastic, science-savvy writing of that much-beloved blockbuster/bestseller, this is a pull-worthy comic. I love a story that shows and doesn’t tell, and this first issue trusts its readers to keep up as the action impeccably lays out the plot.
Likewise, the artwork and page layout lend to the excitement and even hint at some thus-far unexplored story elements. Huang Danlan populates the pages with cool characters zooming around in sleek space suits, and he designs one character in particular to stick out in a not-quite-human way. Marcio Menyz’s color gives Venus the look of a planet that’s electrified, steamy and dangerous as the crew navigates its craggy terrain.
2015 has been a killer year for new BOOM! books, and Venus is a great note to end on. The only thing giving me pause is this series’ limited run, which seems too short to really explore the foundation set by its maiden issue. Needless to say, I’m invested and looking forward to the next installment.
(Click thumbnails to enlarge.)