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!
The Shield #1
Written by Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig
Art by Drew Johnson and Kelly Fitzpatrick (colors)
Lettered by Rachel Deering
Dark Circle Comics
Back when I reviewed the Dark Circle sampler pack, The Shield was the book in its earliest stages, with some general character designs nailed down, but not much else. I was excited for it nonetheless, because the Shield is just a generically cool patriotic superhero template, and also because this iteration (the fourth, if my count is correct) is a young woman, which is an angle no one has used before. Now that the book is out, I read it, and it’s the kind of thing I was hoping for, while still containing some surprises.
Rather than a modern-era super soldier, Dark Circle’s version of the Shield begins in 1776, during the Revolutionary War. She’s a saboteur fighting against the Redcoats, with a vibe that’s somewhere between Assassin’s Creed and Sleepy Hollow. We then flash forward to modern times, when an amnesiac Shield is on the run from shadowy, quasi-governmental agents, and slowly rediscovering her powers and her past. It’s a good hook, and a solid way to differentiate from the previous Captain America-lite versions.
The Shield herself, Victoria Adams, has a fair amount of personality, despite initially being something of a cipher. She’s passionate, competent and a bit of a brawler, which plays to one of Johnson’s strengths, namely depicting violence that looks like it hurts without being overly graphic. There’s a lot here to digest, from the general premise to the lead agent’s villainous, possibly demonic monologue about chaos, to some cool-looking armored troops. But the story doesn’t throw too much at you, opting instead for a brisk pace and nice details. One issue in, and The Shield is already my favorite of the Dark Circle books, and maybe the most accessible.
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Back to the Future #1
Written by Bob Gale, John Barber, and Erik Burnham
Art by Brent Schoonover and Dan Schoening
Inked by David Witt
Colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick and Luis Antonio Delgado
Lettered by Shawn Lee
Just in time for the IRL date Marty McFly famously traveled to the future (10/21/2015!), IDW has brought us an all new ongoing comic based on Back To The Future. Overseen by BTTF scriptwriter Bob Gale, I’m sad to report that this inaugural issue did nothing for me. Split up into two stories, “Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines (Part 1)” is a group of very talented creators spinning their wheels.
The first part, which depicts the initial meeting between Marty and Doc Brown, is hampered by Brent Schoonover’s blocky, static art. Kelly Fitzpatrick’s appropriately explosive color palette goes a long way toward trying to make it work, but Schoonover’s work here feels ill-suited to the madcap vibe of Gale and Barber’s script. It’s the script, though, that’s the biggest problem with this first story: dialogue feels stiff and dependent on either exposition or callbacks to the original films. The question of exactly how Marty and Doc came to be friends is something the films never make clear, so this really felt like a missed opportunity to do something clever.
The issue’s second tale, which finds a younger Doc Brown brought in to work on the Manhattan Project, is an improvement, but not by much. Burnham and Schoening, the longstanding creative team for IDW’s Ghostbusters book, turn in a story with an interesting angle that suffers from…nothing happening. While admittedly the first part of a larger story, it’s hard to get especially excited about a no-frills ten pager in which Doc meets Oppenheimer. (Especially when you can essentially read a more interesting version of this story in Hickman’s The Manhattan Projects.) It’s hard to pinpoint anything massively wrong with this half of the issue beyond the fact that it’s just kind of boring.
Comics of movies, especially popular ones, are often an uneasy adaptation. “Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines,” at least in the first installment, just doesn’t capture the humor and kinetic sense of fun that make the films as enjoyable as they are. While diehard BTTF fans may find more to like here, I found myself OUTTA PATIENCE.
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