Pipeline #1027: Wizards, Gods, Aliens, and Separatists

I've been catching up on the single issues laying around the house this past weekend. Making a dent in the Image pile brings up a couple comics worth talking about from last week and a couple coming up this week.

This week's books will be completely spoiler free. Last week's books' reviews may verge into minor spoiler territory, but not much more than you've already read in "Previews."


"Savage Dragon" #219

Savage Dragon #219 cover
(Photo: Erik Larsen)

This issue goes on the list for being one of my favorites in recent memory.

In it, Glum goes to trial for mass murder, a charge he's clearly guilty of.

He chooses to represent himself in the legal proceedings. He makes a somewhat convincing case, but will a jury buy into it?

It's hilariously done, even incorporating current events into the issue in a logical way.

But, mostly, I love the visual of little Glum in a prison jumpsuit laying out his plans for his freedom. It's great cartooning, with the kind of acting you want to see in comics, but far too often don't. It's not stock poses and heroic action shots.

Here are two examples:

Glum acts both subtly and jumping up and down
(Photo: Erik Larsen)

This is just a jumpy little red alien guy getting excited over his plans and then his own defense. It's terrific stuff.

Just for the pages in the issue with Glum, the comic is worth the $3.99 cover price.

There is more that happens. Much more. But I keep going back to those Glum pages and smiling.


"Curse Words" #1

Curse Words Wizord cover
(Photo: Charles Soule and Ryan Browne)

This is the new wizard-in-modern-New-York series written by Charles Soule with art by Ryan Browne. It's out in stores this week.

I wanted to like this one more than I did, but I'm not giving up on it.

To sum it up, non-spoilery: A wizard from another world comes to earth, gets caught up in events, has a change in plans, starts selling his magic tricks, and then gets caught up in a magic-powered fight.

There are many elements in play here, but the through-line of the issue is clear enough. There's a definite character arc for Wizord, though his actions at the end leave some things up in the air a bit. Is he a good guy? Not entirely... That might just be the most fun part of the series. We'll see in the months ahead.

As we get to the end of the issue, characters from Wizord's past plot against him. We see glimpses of what's to come and the complications ahead of him.

There's a lot going on in this 36 page first issue. It feels a bit overwhelming at first. When you don't entirely know what the direction for the series is going to be, over all, you can feel lost and wonder how all these little bits and pieces are going to add up, even when they're just in there for comedic effect and you can safely not worry about them.

I admit that I didn't appreciate the issue as much as I should have until I read it a second time. Once I had an idea of the structure, it put things in order for me.

The brand of humor this book is using, however, doesn't entirely work for me. It's completely a personal preference. (There are people who don't like Bwah-ha-ha Justice League, for example. I don't understand those people, but I accept that they exist.)

There's not a good label I can apply to the humor to explain it to you. It's a classic Your Mileage May Vary situation.

I think a lot of people are going to like it a lot, though.

My other personal taste issue with the series is Ryan Browne's artwork. He's a good artist. I can't fault him for his anatomy or backgrounds or any of the basics. But his style is just not my thing. It feels like everything is drawn with the same thick line, and often too close to the reader.

It feels like there is not enough negative space on the page. Flipping through the issue, there's so much going on every page that it's tough to let my eye rest on any one thing. It's all competing for my attention, with characters coming right up to the reader to fill the panels. A few more medium or wide angle choices would help open things up and give the reader's eyes some places to rest, as well.

The coloring by Browne, Jordan Boyd, and Michael Parkinson might also be at fault. I don't think there's enough separation between foregrounds and backgrounds with the colors. The overall scheme is "heavy," like the colors would be better off if they faded out just a bit.

Again, though, this is down my personal preference.

Right now, the breakout star of the series is Wizord's sidekick, the Koala Margaret, a.k.a. #TeamMargaret I'll continue reading the series for her. She's awesome.

This first issue is 36 pages for the $3.99 price. You're getting plenty of comic for your money that way. I will be following the series through its first arc, and will re-evaluate it then.

"The Few" #1

The Few #1 cover
(Photo: Sean Lewis and Hayden Sherman)

I'm mixed on this first issue, which is also due out this week. It's about a woman and a baby surviving a post-apocalyptic earth, where people in masks ride motorcycles and attack each other.

There's a bit at the end that grabbed my attention and made me want to read the next issue. It's a great move by writer Sean Lewis and artist Hayden Sherman to lay out the story in the first issue like that to create a moment, no doubt. It's going to bring a lot of people back.

On the downside, the art from Sherman loses me completely in spots. At first, it's a cool kind of minimalist black and white look, working the stark bleakness of the environment and the story.

Then the story jumps around in time once or twice and I'm completely lost on where and when we are. I can't keep track of who is who, or who just did what to the other guy, or even which time frame we're in. I read it a second time and still had problems following it.

I'll give it one more shot, but I'm not hopeful, sorry to say.

This issue is 36 pages for $4.99.

"God Country" #1

God Country #1 cover
(Photo: Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw)

I honestly knew nothing about this series going in. I'm glad. It's the cleanest and clearest first issue out of all the ones I'm reviewing this week. I'm not going to tell you anything about the issue. Go in blind for the best reading experience.

The focus from writer Donny Cates is clear. The immediate danger is well-defined and then well re-defined. There's a tease for what's to come, but the focus on the family at the center of this storm (literally) keeps you in the story without confusing you. The story also runs in a straight line. No en media res bits or non-linear tricks.

Geoff Shaw's artwork is similarly clear. I never lost track of what was going on. The character designs were distinct and recognizable. There are plenty of backgrounds to help set the stage for each scene. Shaw is particularly good at drawing the larger landscapes he does to help set the scene in what amounts to Tornado Alley.

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It's a series I'm not sure I would have given much of a chance if I had known what it was about going in, but the surprises from the story and my appreciation for the clarity of the storytelling in the art impress me enough to keep me around through the first arc, for sure.

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