The launch of All-New, All-Different Marvel is in full swing (as Secret Wars continues to aim at concluding in 2015) with plenty of new #1's from the House of Ideas dropping every Wednesday. This week there are seven new series featuring a wide variety of talent, characters, and styles. We're taking a look a few of the most exciting debuts to help you decide what's worth checking out and possibly save some extra strain on your wallet.
Written by Robbie Thompson
Art by Stacey Lee
Colors by Ian Herring
The first volume of Silk was a charming new series with crisp artwork and a youthful reassessment of the Spider-Man mythology. Those strengths remain along with the same creative team, but are somewhat diminished in this second number one issue. Silk #1 now comes with the burden to reintroducing its premise and sub-plots once more, resulting in an issue that, while enjoyable, fails to feel fresh.
Stacey Lee's artwork feels much more rushed than what she presented in previous issues. Her linework is thicker and rougher, as are some of her designs. Mockingbird's mask, for example, appears like a poorly fitted piece of costuming from Eyes Wide Shut. Silk's webslinging action sequences read as well as ever with a few sequences effectively showing her presence even when off panel. The introduction of a new mystery character and his effect on one battle is unclear though, forcing multiple rereads of a page as a close up fails to connect to the panels surrounding it. Two splash pages land with minimal impact as Lee fails to exaggerate her cartooning and the moments. The former relies heavily on a text revelation, while the latter page hardly evokes the intimidating feel it aims for.
Thompson manages to reintroduce all of the plates spinning in Silk's life including her family (both missing and found), her job, her adjustment to ordinary life, and antagonists like the Black Cat and Goblin King. It's an impressive amount of information packed into a 20 page package that only drags on exposition in a few instances. The jokes and 90s references threaded throughout quickly lose their flavor as some begin to feel forced. An allusion to To Kill A Mockingbird's Boo Radley seems truly out of place, forcing a pause to consider what Silk even means in the midst of a fight. Silk #1 will be a welcome return to fans of the first series, even if it is a weak issue of the ongoing narrative that will leave newcomers underwhelmed.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1
Written by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder
Art by Natacha Bustos
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 isn't the first time Marvel has featured a girl and her dinosaur story (see also: Runaways), but it certainly seems to indicate that this is a surefire combo for success. The first issue takes its time to introduce both Lunella (nicknamed Moon Girl by bullies) and reintroduce Devil Dinosaur, but the foundation being laid is solid and could lead to one of the best new duos at Marvel in years.
Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder characterize Lunella like a real child, a really smart child. She is endearing and relatable, but not without flaws. A complete lack of patience and great sense of ambition have left her understandably isolated. In an adult this isolation might not evoke so much sympathy, but Lunella is clearly a child in need of one good friend. Devil Dinosaur isn't that friend yet, but the few pages he does appear on make it clear that there's more to this prehistoric beast than meets the eyes.
Natcha Bustos really has to sell the attitude and intelligence of Devil Dinosaur, and she does it very well. He is nothing short of monstrous, an exaggerated T-Rex with flaming eyes brought to life by colorist Tamra Bonvillain. There is a sense of play to his posture and movements though. The final page featuring both Devil Dinosaur and Lunella is a big selling point, pointing to the dino's likable qualities and the potential friendship to come. Lunella's room and inventions lack the detail they appear to have on a cursory glance, missing opportunities to provide a stronger internal life to her character with posters simply labeled "Science" and "Moon". Even with some missed opportunities, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 is a sweet first issue that may have readers falling in love with the titular duo before they even get to know one another.
Venom: Space Knight #1
Art by Ariel Olivetti
As Flash Thompson runs through an adventure in space, he is unsure of what exactly he is as an Agent of the Cosmos, it is no clearer to the reader. Dropped into his story in media res there's no hook for reader's interest. The premise is unclear, the presentation lacking, and story hackneyed. By the time this first installment ends, you won't be asking why you should continue, but why you even began reading this comic.
Ariel Olivetti's highly rendered digital style may appeal to some, but it makes for a poor fit to the comics medium. Most panels convey little sense of movement even when ships are exploding and Flash swings through the air. It lacks even the lush painterly quality of similarly flawed works from J.G. Jones and Alex Ross. Olivetti's greatest sin is that he often fails to even tell a story. Flash moves between scenes with no connection and rarely even an establishing panel. The best sense of flow he musters falls within a single page. Outside of that Venom: Space Knight #1 reads like a series of non sequitur action sequences.
The blame for this issues scattered reading does not fall to Olivetti alone. Robbie Thompson is far more concerned with narrative, but that concern does not equate to results. Flash thinks and speaks in cliches, making bland football references and jokes that make even Spider-Man's seem lame. His internal monologue coats the introductory action sequence, making its scattershot approach read even more slowly and ineffectually. In spite of all the words on the page, very little is actually conveyed. Flash has to explain what the art should already manage to convey and is confused about almost anything outside of that. At some point in its development Venom: Space Knight must have seemed like a very good idea, but whatever was being imagined at that moment is nowhere to be found in this first issue. Somehow this comic has transformed a superpowered adventure in space into a tedious affair.
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