Swamp Thing #2 (Published by DC; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): It's only understandable that since the DC universe is in the middle of a quasi de-Alan Mooreification, that Swamp Thing would receive a new origin. What Scott Snyder has done here is explain the origin of ole Swampy and how one actually becomes a Swamp Thing. It's again, mystical in nature, as is the antithesis of the Swamp Thing, and the threat of the story: Sethe. The best way I can describe Sethe is decay incarnate. It looks like a force of pestilence and rot, in the shape of a dead bird. It warps the minds of the inhabitants of the town where Alec Holland is presently residing and it quickly turns into a horror movie. Holland is saved by a mysterious biker, though the identity of who it is is not really a shocker, but I'm okay with that and ends on a proper cliffhanger. Snyder definitely has a niche for horror comics and even does a nod to Bernie Wrightson. His take on the character is really inspiring, and I can't wait to see how this all unfolds. Yanick Paquette does some incredible work here. How he uses vine-like constructs to do panel breakdowns and the way he handles the sheer macabre of it all is a break from the norm. I do fear this title won't be given the proper chance, but in the waves of Lanterns, Bats, and Super titles, give this one a read.
Stormwatch #2 (Published by DC; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The second issue of Stormwatch is a little tricky. Paul Cornell introduces Apollo and Midnighter's first meet up as well as their invitation to Stormwatch. The book continues to push sci-fi boundaries in comics these days, even with just two issues in. The imaginative feel and imagery here almost feels like Morrison's JLA. I mean, you have our moon becoming self-aware and on the offensive. The art takes a leap of improvement in this issue with Al Barrionuevo taking on most of the pencils, with Miguel Sepulveda strictly on the moon scenes. Barrioneuvo does a great job giving the roster a more refined shape with his line work and Sepulveda carrying on a more tenuous look. I just wish it didn't feel like Cornell had put aside most of the first issue's plot developmnt and this one feels overcrowded. I'm sure he'll remedy that in future installments, but this book continues to impress me, I just don't want to get a little loss along the way.
I, Vampire #1
Written by Joshua Hale Fiaklov
Art by Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo
Lettering by Pat Brosseau
Published by DC
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 9/10
Vampires have always been a staple of horror and fiction. No surprise then, that when DC relaunched their universe, there was this book in the mix. Originally published as backup feature in House of Mystery in the early 80's, Andrew Bennett is back once again fighting his former lover, Mary Seward, who is assembling an army to kill all of humanity. While the concept in I, Vampire is the same as it was almost thirty years ago, the look here is completely different and easily the most distinguished book of the new 52.
Let's start off by looking at the creative here. Josh Fiaklov became an indie sensation this year with the release of Echoes, published by Top Cow. His no-nonsense approach to the macabre is still in place here. His writing prowess is more or less the most engaging out of the newly relaunched books. He gives you a sense of the characters and their relationship in such few pages, the rest of the story sinks its teeth you and doesn't let up. Andrew is afraid of becoming a monster, while Mary has embraced the feral nature of the vampire, yet he still loves her.The narration between the two goes in and out of the timeline of the book, presenting it in a way that makes the readers think and caught me off guard. You get a hint of the big reveal in the beginning, but might not really understand it at first. Above all, it is accessible to new readers.
Andrea Sorrentino's art is unlike anything out there right now, especially at DC where it's practically against the grain with their house style. It's moody, stunning, and reminds me of early Mignola with the heavy use of shadows. Or the likes of Jae Lee, but with a more minimalist edge. There's not a real concentration on facial expressions or anything like that, but you still get the idea of what is going on and nothing is lost.
The superb colors by Marcelo Maiolo truly soar here. They're presented in a bold way that captures the feel of the book. The shades of red and blue indicating present time and flashbacks are a little helpful, but it's the way the colors reflect the eeriness of this world. Though a minor setback, the coloring on the caption boxes that has the dialogue between Andrew and Mary is so similar, it's difficult at times to understand who is saying what. I think red on black would have been suited better for one of the characters just for the sake of distinguishing the captions. Again, a minor setback as the the art team on here is an extreme breath of fresh air.
I'm sure a lot of readers are sick of vampires, but the presentation here is just jaw-dropping that it's hard to ignore. Nearly flawless in its execution and in company of supermen and masked vigilantes, I, Vampire has a look of its own and should not be overlooked.
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Jeremy Haun, Sunny Gho, Ryan Sook, and Tom Feister
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating 10/10
Wow. Just wow.
Just when you think you can breathe again when Ron Marz lets up, Jeremy Haun puts the peddle to the metal and goes full blast here. Taking a look back at the nine previous issues, Marz just doesn't let up. Here, we have a more relaxed pace as we're Ji Xi's origin and a brief family reunion. It plays as more as the aftermath of the big Aphrodite IX/Cyberforce throw down, and Haun gets to really shine here, right as Marz revs the engine for the next installment.
Since Artifacts was originally planned for thirteen issues, Marz has allowed the story to take its time. Yes, it was a matter of time before Sara and Jackie saved Hope, and every new character had their chance to get a little of the lime light. Though now almost a year into it, we get some pay off, which is just a thrill for longtime readers I'm sure. What Marz has done here is nothing short of good ole classic storytelling. The pacing has been solid and comprehensive, and all the while actually leading up to something that doesn't feel it was thrown together at the 11th hour.
I've found Jeremy Haun to be hit or miss in the series, but here, he's the star of the show. I can't put my finger on it, but everything just comes across as more polished and a cleaner look than before. The layouts are more dynamic than what he's done previously and it just looks great. I do think that Sara and Jackie's reunion with Hope felt a little flat and almost cavalier, but the action and Ji's origin just nailed it. Props to Sunny Gho as he proves again that he is Top Cow's go-to king of colors and can adapt to anyone's style.
Without a doubt, Artifacts has shaped up to be everything I had hoped for and then some. It's the event in comics now and still remains strong without relying on tie-ins and I'll be there to see how this all plays out. You should pick this up and join me.