Thursday, July 8, 2010

First reviews of July. Mainly indie titles!

Velocity #1
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Kenneth Rocafort
Colors by Sunny Cho
Letters by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts
Click here for the preview

"My name is Carin Taylor. Carin with a C instead of a K and an I instead of an E in case you were wondering. Or you can just call me Velocity. I run fast."

There are very few mainstream books out on the market that features a hero without a city to save, without a love interest, without a sidekick, without having to worry about a secret identity, without worrying about holding a job outside your superhero one...yeah, you get the picture. Yet here is Velocity in her own mini-series, and in this first issue at least, it truly is a solo book. It's her against the bad guys. No back up from Cyberforce (not to say they won't show up later in the series) and you really get the feeling it's her against all odds.

Right off the bat, you'll notice Kenneth Rocafort's stylish and kinetic style with a glorious spread at the beginning. that pretty much sets the bar for what you are to expect in this issue. It's fast, fun and exciting. Now, I have little to no knowledge of the character, I think I may have one or two Cyberforce comics somewhere, but writer Ron Marz excelled in giving me a good idea who Carin/Velocity is and her purpose, all the while setting up the frame of the five-issue mini-series. Essentially, take an episode of "24" and put it in the world of Top Cow superheroics, and there you have it.

Since Velocity isn't exactly a household name or even that well-known, Marz uses heavy inner monologue to get the character across. We get a sense of who she is and what she's about. Also, because of her lacking a supporting cast of any kind, all of our attention is on her and her thoughts. Of course with lots of inner monologue boxes on the page, you would think it would a distraction, but letterer Troy Peteri does an amazing job of making sure nothing gets lost or buried and goes with the flow of Rocafort's art. Sunny Cho's colors are striking but again, not distracting from what is going on in the story.

Simply put, pick this up. Top Cow has a slew of talent in their ranks and this book proves they can hang with the best of them.

Angelus #4 (Published by Top Cow; Review by Lan Pitts: Four issues in of a six-part series, Angelus #4 delivers so much and continues to build at the same time. There is romance, the continuing bloodfeud of light and shadow, betrayal, and an Artifact revealed. All the makings of a compelling story with characters I quickly have come to love in a span of over two years. Ron Marz as usual has an engaging story with depth, and gets the reader excited for Top Cow's upcoming "Artifacts" mega-event. There is some seriously good dialog going on that has weight and sets the tone of "Artifacts" and how it truly is going to be a war. Now Stjepan Sejic runs hot and cold to me. He's great when he's good, when he fumbles, it shows loud and clear. In this issue, you can really see his talent and imagination shine through. There's beauty in the environment and facial expressions come across clean and tight and convey genuine emotion. Especially with a touching scene with Finch and Dani. I recommend this comic for readers who are interested in some great fantasy and wonderful storytelling and any and all Top Cow fans.

Alice In Wonderland TPB (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Lan Pitts): This past Spring, Disney released a live-action "Alice In Wonderland" feature with Johnny Depp, Ann Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, and Mia Wasikowska as the titular Alice, but I hadn't realized that BOOM! put out a graphic novel adaptation to the movie. I have to say I enjoyed the book more than the movie. Nothing knocking Tim Burton or his crew, but Massimiliano Narciso's art is something between Ted Naifeh and Jill Thompson and is simply amazing. It has a sort of dreamscape feel to it (as it should) and I hope to see more works from him in the future. Allessandro Ferrari does a fine job adapting the movie, which I'm aware is it's own story (though I would recommend The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Bebbor if you enjoyed this version, if you haven't already found that series). It also includes a behind-the-scenes sort of sketchpages where you can see the art progress which I found fascinating because I'm always curious on an artist's thought process.

Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: Storm Front Vol 2 #2
Written by Jim Butcher and Mark Powers
Art by Adrian Syaf and Brett Booth
Inks by Rick Ketcham
Colors by Mohan
Letters by Bill Tortolini
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts

"Useless. It had all be useless. I was going to die in the next two days." -- Harry Dresden

The problem with adapting material, especially one that has a cult following like The Dresden Files does, is that there is already an audience for you to either get praised by or to piss off. In the case of this book, I'm leaning more towards the latter. For those of you unfamiliar with Jim Butcher's book series of the same name, it centers around an adult wizard named Harry Dresden, who is used by the Chicago PD to deal with supernatural situations and beings such as, but not limited to, fairies, vampires, demons and devils. Simply put, very cool stuff. I recently got into the book series via a good word from a friend and was surprised myself when I had not gotten into them sooner once I dove in.

A recap page would have come in handy as well since we are about halfway done with the first novel at this point, so that would make it difficult for non-fans to enjoy something that they otherwise might have. So for those out there, Harry has taken a missing persons case with a client whose husband has been missing for three days, he was also dabbling in magic. On top of that, he is investigated a double murder with the victims whose hearts had been removed. Of course this opens the gates to Dresden and his magical world.

The main problem I have, isn't with the script or the adaptation, though Harry's inner monologues do become cumbersome and make the pages seem cluttered. Very cluttered. Mark Powers' script holds up to the book series and didn't deviate the plot from what I can recall. My main gripe, and it's one hell of a gripe, is the inconsistency of the art. Adrian Syaf, who can be seen working on Brightest Day comes off strong, yet his inks fall by the wayside. Ketcham takes a page out of what is essentially 90's Image style. Too much feathering and cross-hatching in some places that it became distracting. There are three different artists on this book, all with different styles, and it looks choppy. Also, the last pages of the book are strictly done by Brett Booth, who has is probably the most radical in style, but he's also the only one that added text to Harry's shirt that appears out of nowhere since it's not in any other part of the book. Oy.

Dresden File fans, we simply deserve better.

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