Barbarella #6 (May 2018)

Barbarella #6

It’s another good issue. Because Barbarella’s always good. It’s so good Carey can get away with spending half (but sort of most) of the issue with the evil prospector family. Mostly the evil prospector, whose dead wife is now digital and lives inside his gun.

So Carey and Yarar are doing that weird side of the story–the futuristic rustic prospecting family–while Barbarella and the scientist dude are stuck in another dimension. Their side of the story is mostly action. When it’s not action, it’s only because the book’s pausing for a big panel establishing shot. Otherwise Yarar’s always keeping it moving.

He’ll do multiple panels of the same scene, from different angles (sometimes the same angle again later), and the story just flows between them. Much like how Carey’s script is nimble enough for humor even when it’s all propelling the plot forward, Yarar’s got the right movement and detail to do the same. It’s so good. Like, the thing about Barbarella is it doesn’t need to be so good but it’s always exceptional. Superior comics creating going on here.

And an amazing cliffhanger. Can’t wait for next issue.

CREDITS

Hard Labor, Part Two: Rust Never Sleeps; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Advertisements

The Highest House #4 (May 2018)

The Highest House #4

Gross has a double page spread this issue and it’s even more glorious than I could’ve imagined. He keeps the same small panel style, which is part of why the comic reads so well in general, but has a bigger area to flow. It makes up for the very confusing art at the end.

The issue is another full one. Not just with the existing plots, Carey goes ahead and adds another. There are visitors at Highest House and maybe they shouldn’t be trusted. Moth gets suspicious.

Before the end of the comic, after a lot of action and a lot of danger. It’s amazing Moth is still alive by the end–but in a great way. Carey is able to drum up concern as needed. A couple of the many subplots seem to get wrapped up. In both cases it’s more implied; it’s also very likely Carey’s on top of all the subplots. Because Highest House is refined. It’s grand and ambitious but the writing is just as precise as Gross’s art.

It’s an excellent comic.

CREDITS

Obsidian’s Bargain, Part 4; writer, Mike Carey; artist and letterer, Peter Gross; colorist, Fabien Alquier; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Highest House #3 (April 2018)

The Highest House #3

Highest House #3 really is only twenty-five pages. I had to do a confirmation count because so much happens I was having a hard time believing it was only one issue. Not a lot in terms of events, just in terms of character introductions and character development. Carey really does a lot, including giving Moth a love interest–well, a crush, anyway–in the lord’s daughter. And then he introduces the lord. And one of the princess’s maids. And some family mystic who can tell Moth’s got something going on with a dark power.

And then there’s Obsidian explaining how Moth is secretly descended from a royal line, which is why Moth can free Obsidian. There’s also a bunch about the deal with Obsidian. And with Fless, Moth’s roofing boss; there’s a lot with her. There’s not much with the creep cook, who’s still alive. For some reason I thought he was dead.

It’s a packed issue, beautifully visualized. Gross’s art moves the story along at a brisk pace without ever hurrying it. And he always makes time for some gorgeous establishing shots.

Highest House keeps getting better.

CREDITS

Obsidian’s Bargain, Part 3; writer, Mike Carey; artist and letterer, Peter Gross; colorist, Fabien Alquier; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Barbarella #5 (April 2018)

Barbarella #5

Kenan Yarar returns to Barbarella with the start of a new story arc. Barbarella has gotten her ship fixed, taken an unseen shower as the comic never gets piggish with its cheesecake, gotten almost a full night of sleep in a comfortable bed, and received a message from a ghost friend of hers.

Even though Carey goes in depth about the mineral Barbarella goes off to mine, the ghost thing is just a given. There are ghosts.

The ghost tells her to go to mine some R.U.S.T., which turns out to be a space-time mineral. A large amount has been found on some desolate planet. On the planet Barbarella encounters some redneck prospectors and a scientist sidekick. Carey’s got a lot of exposition about the R.U.S.T. for reader edification, which Barbarella’s pet can apparently “hear.” At least when it suits comic effect.

There’s a bunch of good art, a bunch of good writing, and the end of the issue comes way too fast.

Barbarella is a gem.

CREDITS

Hard Labor, Part One: After tge Gold Rush; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Highest House #2 (March 2018)

The Highest House #2

Highest House doesn’t go anywhere expected. Even when it’s going somewhere predictably unexpected, writer Carey manages to get rid of that predictability. He’s got a lot of immediate danger, a lot of action, but after an almost pastoral setup.

Moth, new slave and roof-fixer, is in training. He talks to his boss, Fless, about life at Highest House, but without excitement. Life is long and without incident, it sounds like; Moth just needs to learn how to climb roofs better.

There’s some B plot with the mean cook who wanted Moth for the kitchen and then some C plot with the castle wizard. Though it’s unclear how much magic there’s actually going to be in Highest House. Even after it becomes clear there’s some kind of magic, Carey doesn’t define it yet. Because the reader understands more about what’s going on than Moth, because Moth’s a kid.

Of course, Moth’s got a voice in his head to explain things, which seems like it might be more trouble than it’s worth. We’ll see. Carey never rushes even when it seems like he’s about to rush. Instead, he dwells.

The issue just increases the series’s potential. Excellent art from Gross, who fits a whole bunch into these pages. Lots of panels, lots of information, but also lots and lots of movement. Some beautiful composition going on here.

Highest House. High hopes.

CREDITS

Obsidian’s Bargain, Part 2; writer, Mike Carey; artist and letterer, Peter Gross; colorist, Fabien Alquier; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Barbarella #4 (March 2018)

Barbarella #4

Barbarella #4 is a done-in-one and the best issue of the book so far. Like, wow, best issue. Carey runs a very tight narrative–Barbarella (and Vix, her fox who repeats words but isn’t sentient, unfortuantely) is traveling as a passenger on a “planet moving” ship. Not many other passengers, just a sexy blue empath dude who can projection feelings as well as read them. So they go to bed.

Unfortunately, the planets (there are five the ship’s dragging) start shaking and it means trouble.

In a normal book, here’d be your cliffhanger. Carey and new artist Jorge Fornés don’t stop there. They don’t even stop at the big reveal. They go all the way until the end of the trip. I kept waiting for it to cut off and it never does. It just keeps getting better and better.

Carey’s keeping some distance on Barbarella’s character development. The narrative follows her around as she encounters these aliens and those aliens and this adventure or that one and it’s always from her outward perspective. At least in this issue.

But there’s character development work going on. Carey’s writing on this book is real strong.

And Fornés art is great. His style is different than what the book had before. He’s got nice thick (digital) lines. Realism, but still personality. Especially during the action scenes.

So Barbarella. It’s still good, possibly now awesome. Fingers crossed Carey’s got enough ideas.

CREDITS

Pest Control: Fire and Sword; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Jorge Fornés; colorist, Celeste Woods; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Highest House #1 (February 2018)

Mike Carey and Peter Gross find a beautiful pace for the first issue of The Highest House. The issue’s full, but never too full–Gross’s pages sometimes have twelve panels, sometimes three, usually eight to ten. A lot of panels, a lot of story. And a lot of exposition.

In some medieval maybe fantasy world, a woman sells her son, Moth, into slavery. He’s off to Highest House, which he doesn’t know much (if anything) about. The guy who buys the slaves is an agent, not royalty. And he might he some kind of wizard (or hypnotist). He bonds with Moth because Moth’s got some perception abilities. Maybe. It’s unclear what they are or even might be.

So there’s the rural village, the trip to the city (with breaks), then the city itself. The palace. It just looks like a city. Anyway. Moth finds himself a roof repairer. He learns all about the tools, in this speedy, thorough page from Gross and Carey. There eighteen panels on the page and lots of text. Because it’s a full book.

Gross’s lines are a little looser than I remember, but he’s got gorgeous composition. And the loose lines usually make the characters emote better.

Carey’s writing is good. It’s interesting, it’s engaging, it’s not too complicated. Lots of panels, lots of text–Highest House could easily overwhelm. Carey doesn’t let it, even when it seems like it may. It’s that pacing. Beauty pacing.

Highest House is off to a strong start.

CREDITS

Obsidian’s Bargain, Part 1; writer, Mike Carey; artist and letterer, Peter Gross; colorist, Fabien Alquier; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Barbarella #3 (February 2018)

Barbarella #3

Carey and Yarar finish the first Barbarella story just right. Barbarella gets half the issue; she’s recovering from the cliffhanger and trying to figure out how to stop the foreign agents from killing all the religious nutjobs’ babies. The other half of the issue is the foreign agents as they execute their plan.

Their scenes create the tension. Barbarella’s scenes create the fun. Starting with her little space Chihuahua. Then she gets a surprise sidekick. Carey has a lot of fun with both.

The Barbarella scenes should nullify the tension–since she’s never deterred or worried–but they don’t. Carey paces the various reveals well and Yarar’s wacky art matches them perfectly. Yarar’s always got a lot of detail, whether it’s in movement or background; it keeps Barbarella distinct without ever slowing the book down. In fact, because of Yarar’s panel transitions, the distinctiveness usually helps the momentum.

And the wrap-up is good. Carey gives the characters time.

Barbarella keeps impressing.

CREDITS

Red Hot Gospel, Part Three: Fire and Sword; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Barbarella #2 (January 2018)

Barbarella #2

This issue of Barbarella is a smooth read. Carey has Barbarella’s newfound, partially cyborg sidekick narrating at the start. It’s kind of nice–a chill reflection on Barbarella. Some exposition. Implications of genetic improvements and whatnot. The narration is calm against the thrilling action.

The book’s only on its second issue, so it’s hard to say what’s the norm. Yarar’s art is phenomenal, blending genres–sci-fi and witch trials; Barbarella is constantly in motion. Carey and Yarar occasionally are maintaining the momentum on their own, but it never slows down. Even when Carey does an aside with a robot terrorist, formerly a robot veternarian.

Barbarella gets a little character work, even though she’s mostly the subject here. Carey keeps a lot of narrative distance. It gives Yarar space to fill in with art, but it also keeps the characters surprising.

The cliffhanger’s a cheat, but its lead-up is well-written and the art is beautifully paced. So Barbarella. Still excellent. How.

CREDITS

Red Hot Gospel, Part Two: The Fall From Grace; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Barbarella 1 (December 2017)

Barbarella #1

No doubt I’m going to regret it, but I’m excited about Barbarella. There’s whatever baggage comes with having an old white guy (Mike Carey) write a bisexual future woman and it’s definitely there. Carey doesn’t have any conversations, he just acknowledges conversations to be had. Only without ever promising they’ll be had. Again, I’m going to regret being excited about this book.

Because the rest of it is Carey doing crazy sci-fi. Not super crazy sci-fi, not like with dragons and angels and whatnot, but futuristic cyberpunk meets intergalactic travel stuff. There’s a lot of action, there’s a lot of sublime plotting, there’s a lot of great art.

Kenan Yarar implies a lot more detail than he actually draws. He’s got a rough style and a great sense of movement. It’s important because eventually Carey starts doing summary and Yarar is able to fill those montage panels with a nature momentum.

It makes for a compelling read. I’m looking forward to the next issue, which is kind of embarrassing because Barbarella is kind of a cop-out. It’s an excellently executed comic, but it’s aimed at the broadest audience Dynamite can get away with on a book with nudity and sex.

And Yarar’s rough and immediate style actually give Barbarella all its grit.

Honestly, it feels like a Dark Horse comic from the mid-nineties.

One I’m hesitantly onboard with, because I can’t believe Dynamite is intentionally doing this book this (good) way.

CREDITS

Red Hot Gospel, Part One: The Spoils of War; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Suicide Risk 13 (May 2014)

Suicide Risk #13

And I’m done. While it’s obvious Carey isn’t done with all his reveals on Suicide Risk, he’s also gotten to the point of no return. When you start aping Back to the Future, okay! it’s just for a joke and it works all right… But Carey reveals his superhero universe to be based on Highlander II: The Quickening and there’s no excuse for it.

This revelation comes in the middle of the flashback to Requiem’s trial and explains everyone. It’s an uncomfortable mix of sci-fi, fantasy and superhero stuff. It’s been so long since Carey’s had any successful ideas on the comic and the whole trial thing is just terrible. And it gets worse as it goes on.

Then the cliffhanger is confusing; it requires a visual reference only Casagrande isn’t distinctive enough on the art. It should be a stunning moment, instead it’s painfully obvious.

Risk is toast.

C- 

CREDITS

Seven Walls and a Pit Trap, Part Three; writer, Mike Carey; penciller, Elena Casagrande; inkers, Casagrande and Michele Pasta; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios..

Suicide Risk 12 (April 2014)

Suicide Risk #12

Carey continues to let Suicide Risk slide down further. It’s not a terrible issue, though the stuff with Requiem fighting his family and then leaving them when the mind control villain shows up is dumb. It doesn’t make any sense, but then Carey’s never known what to do with the family.

There are some flashbacks to the villain world too. A bunch of supervillains having a battle with some nameless, indistinct good guys. Presumably.

The issue doesn’t show any real signs of life until the end, when Carey moves from a flashback at Requiem’s trial to the mind of Leo Winters. Having the protagonist share his mind with a supervillain should provide some good moments. It doesn’t.

Worse, Carey establishes the mind control villain so well the character should have been the series’s narrator for the whole thing.

Carey’s trying to develop past the initial hook and he’s got nothing.

C+ 

CREDITS

Seven Walls and a Pit Trap, Part Two; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 11 (March 2014)

SuicideRisk 11 cover

Leo–see, only took me ten issues to remember his name–is now under control of his other-dimensional evil self who’s trying to figure what’s happened. I can’t quite remember the fill-in explaining everything, but the villains are just criminals brainwashed and dumbed on regular Earth?

There’s a lot of megalomania interior monologue for Leo. Carey pretty much does him as an evil Superman, which gets boring fast. It’s not even interesting for a whole page, I don’t think.

One of the bad guys might know what’s going on and it seems like the daughter’s powers will finally get explained but if they were transported there, how did the brainwashers set up the marriage. Is the wife brainwashed too?

All of these questions and more will undoubtedly be answered in a vaguely interesting, but not really compelling way.

Carey’s got too many ideas in Risk and no restraint.

C+ 

CREDITS

Seven Walls and a Pit Trap, Part 1 of 3; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 10 (February 2014)

SuicideRisk 10 rev Page 1

In a series without a lot of strong women–unless you count them having superpowers–Carey reveals the guy selling superpowers is under the spell of another evil woman. It’s kind of mean. Carey just picks on the guy relentlessly, like the Ghost of Christmas Future picks on.

Jorge Coelho fills in on the art. He could be a lot better, especially given how much influence he takes from those Prometheus aliens. Otherwise the art’s not exactly bad, but not good enough to have much personality.

Carey reveals a lot. The super people aren’t supposed to remember who they are. There are beings monitoring them. Is it The Matrix or Dark City or something in between? It might not matter if Carey can’t make Risk’s world a lot more interesting.

I don’t know if the issue’s distressing or just too predictable. The only surprise from Carey is his meanness.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Mike Carey; artist, Jorge Coelho; colorist, Kelly Fitzpatrick; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 9 (January 2014)

SuicideRisk 09 rev Page 1

Casagrande’s getting really good. Suicide Risk is developing a new style, especially with how Carey is developing the characters. There’s a lot of good moves this issue, not just with Leo–his family even figuring in (finally)–but with the supporting cast and where the series is going.

In fact, it no longer feels much like Risk. Something about the cliffhanger reveal this issue reminds a lot of how Carey uses cliffhangers in Unwritten. It might just be a coincidence, but it feels like Carey is altering how he’s telling this comic to match other successful devices from his other series.

Regardless, it’s a great issue, probably the best due to the way Casagrande’s style has matured and Carey giving the series it’s first real twist. The way Carey leads up to it, keeping the reader a little removed… it’s masterful.

Risk might have real legs on it after all.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 8 (December 2013)

SuicideRisk 08 rev

The first half of the issue is a lot better than the second. The second is why you don’t try to do an action scene as talking heads.

Carey opens with a lot of status updates. Leo’s kids, the United Nations, Leo and the supervillain lady having their morning after scene; Carey is catching up with a lot and juggling a lot and it works out.

But then there’s the scene with Leo and his new supervillain friends by the pool. There are also bombers about to nuke them or whatever and so Leo has to coordinate the team. It’s rather boring stuff, Leo on the ground, instructing people, quick panels showing the people carrying out instructions. The twist at the end is inexplicable and contrived.

It’s a strange issue. The first half shows Carey’s giving Risk legs, but the second makes it seem like he doesn’t know it’s going.

CREDITS

Nightmare Scenario, Part Three; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 7 (November 2013)

SuicideRisk 07 preview Page 1

I finally remember the lead character’s name–Leo–though I don’t know why. Maybe because his name becomes so unimportant in this issue, as it becomes clear Carey does have some alternate reality reveal planned out where the protagonist was a supervillain already.

It doesn’t really matter, though. The family stuff in the comic is its worst aspect. The rest of it, the stuff with the supervillains taking over a state in Mexico and declaring themselves absolute rulers… it’s okay. It’s not great, but it’s okay. Carey’s not treading unexplored territory but at least he’s taking a slightly different path of “realistic” superheroes.

Casagrande doesn’t do very well on the big military engagement at the start of the issue and there’s something off about her attack on the Mexican city. The grand scale seems to escape her. The more confined scenes are a lot better.

It’s a decent enough issue.

CREDITS

Nightmare Scenario, Part Two; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 6 (October 2013)

SuicideRisk 06 rev

Apparently all Carey needed to do with Suicide Risk to sustain the comic was send it to Mexico. This issue is another strong one, maybe even the best so far in the normal series. I even remember the lead’s name is Leo; I usually forget somewhere during the issue.

There are more bad guys who show up, but Carey doesn’t go overboard introducing them. There’s not a lot of nonsense with Leo as a cop, just as the protagonist in over his head. Carey’s not trying too hard to fit in the exposition. And the annoying family is only in it for a few pages.

The issue hints at a whole lot. The super powered people are maybe shadows of other people–their real selves–something along those lines. Hopefully it’s not The Matrix. There’s a demon from Hell, however, so who knows… anything’s possible.

I hope Carey can maintain.

CREDITS

Writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 5 (September 2013)

SuicideRisk 05 rev

It’s the best issue of Suicide Risk by miles and I really wish it weren’t. See, it’s a side story. It’s Carey doing the story of a put-upon housewife who gets the chance at superpowers and how it all shakes out. It’s not a regular issue, so it being fantastic doesn’t mean anything for the series itself.

And it’s an outstanding issue. Carey writes first person narration for the character, who’s immediately stronger than anyone else he’s ever written in the comic. He spends almost half the issue dealing with her ground situation–dead end job, pervert boss, crappy husband, crappy kids–before he even introduces the superpowers.

Then he gives her some wacky powers and so it becomes even more inventive. It’s simply wonderful. Nice art from Joëlle Jones too, who manages to go between innocence and grimness. I just wish the regular comic were as strongly written.

CREDITS

Writer, Mike Carey; artist, Joëlle Jones; colorist, Emilio Lopez; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 4 (August 2013)

SuicideRisk 04 preview 1 a3ef1

So Carey has his best issue and Casagrande has her worst.

One of the nuttier supervillains whisks the protagonist off to her temple and Carey spends half the issue introducing some really dense mythology into the comic book. He also explains some of how the protagonist’s powers work–and lets a couple of his friends know about them.

The mythology gives way to problem solving, which leads to a fantastic conclusion. Unfortunately, Casagrande draws the protagonist rather awkwardly. He’ll occasionally appear squat in the talking panels. It makes the entire comic, even with the stronger art in other places, seem ugly and cheap.

Sadly, the one thing Carey doesn’t do well is bring in the protagonist’s family. They’re still a pointless addition to the comic as he doesn’t interact with them. He talks about them, yes, but Carey’s just using them as damsels in distress.

Still, best issue to date.

CREDITS

Writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 3 (July 2013)

SuicideRisk 03 rev

I’m getting really sick of Carey’s cliffhangers. He doesn’t have a good resolution for the previous issue’s and then he has another weak one here. He’s introducing a bunch of information this time in the cliffhanger, presumably to encourage one to come back next time….

It’s maybe the third expository diarrhea this issue. It’s incredible how much exposition Carey has here; over and over and over. But never about the single interesting thing–the protagonist’s superpowers cause his brother’s husband to lose his voice. No explanation why, even though the protagonist (his name’s not memorable) seems to know.

There are some really good moments throughout, but Carey is avoiding way too much. His pacing on the series isn’t paying off and all his conversations are contrived for expository purposes.

The problem is Carey’s approach. He’s spending too much time on the villains instead of his protagonist.

The comic’s not gelling.

CREDITS

Grudge War, Part Two; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 2 (June 2013)

SuicideRisk 02 rev

Carey really needs to work on his cliffhangers for Risk. He passes up an interesting one–the protagonist’s wife wondering about him talking to a woman in his sleep–for a common one. Supervillain fight leading to an explosion, the standard, in other words.

It’s as though Carey knows all he has to set the comic apart is the protagonist being a dedicated family man–there’s a really forced moment when another cop refers to the family as his “blessings”–but he also doesn’t want to tell that story. Instead, he wants to have his protagonist hunt down the bad guys and get into big, action-packed fights.

But the comic’s still decent, even if it feels undercooked. Carey’s a good writer, even when he’s forcing, and there are some interesting moments. For example, the protagonist’s superpowers has a side effect–he repulses water.

It’s still too soon to tell.

CREDITS

Grudge War, Part One; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Suicide Risk 1 (May 2013)

SuicideRisk 01 rev  dragged

Mike Carey’s got one big problem with Suicide Risk… he’s doing a new realistic superpowers series and everyone’s been doing those series for almost a decade now. The shades of Powers and The Boys don’t reflect on Carey; they’re just inevitable at this point.

He does introduce a couple new things into the mix. His protagonist is a cop–maybe SWAT, it’s not clear from this issue–who isn’t on some special team or assignment. He’s just always having to deal with the supervillains.

And the superpowered folk are almost all supervillains. Carey makes sure to establish it in the first issue–even the good guys eventually go bad. It’s just too much power for them, apparently.

The writing is all good in terms of dialogue and pacing, but it’s just too soon to tell where Carey’s heading. He’s intentionally opaque.

Elena Casagrande’s art is successful, combining realistic and fantastic.

CREDITS

Getting a Bit Short on Heroes; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Elena Casagrande; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Unwritten 35.5 (May 2012)

863304 1

Interesting, now Carey’s using the final .5 issue to set up something else forthcoming. He introduces the reader–for the first time–to a peon in the Cabal. The protagonist this issue, Danny, is a thoroughly underwhelming English major who ends up working in the big reading room for the Cabal. Lots of the big events in the series occur, giving the reader a sense of the time passing.

There are a couple major bumps–it ties directly in to the story arc Carey finished the previous issue–and it’s a fine setup. It’s a little too much of a setup, but Carey does give the character an interesting story and perspective on this world. He’s entirely believable as a dimwit college student. It’s interesting to see the mundane in the Unwritten world.

Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s art is good. The settings all feel very British.

It’s a thoroughly good comic.

CREDITS

Gospel Creatures; writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; artist, Gabriel Hernandez Walta; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

The Unwritten 35 (May 2012)

860552

Maybe Tom seems like an action hero because of his outfit. He’s got suspenders for some reason, looking a little like Bullitt.

It’s a Tom and Pullman issue. There’s some action, but there’s mostly just Pullman messing with Tom. Pullman–and Carey–promise some great revelation, but it’s unclear how much of it Pullman is just keeping to himself. The issue doesn’t exactly raise questions about Leviathan and the nature of the universe, but it doesn’t answer any either.

There’s a big change–possibly two–for the series at the end (and maybe even some little ones throughout). Carey, Gross and Perker do such a good job throughout, one can ignore the entire arc has basically just been a way for Carey to soft reboot the series. He could just as easily done a “One Year Later,” since he doesn’t even bother with subplots this arc.

Still, it’s fine stuff.

CREDITS

Tommy Taylor and the War of Words, Part Five; writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; pencillers, Gross and M.K. Perker; inker, Perker; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

The Unwritten 34.5 (April 2012)

860550

The issue reads a little like “Wilson Taylor: Year One.” Gross and Carey give him a decent origin story, set in the trenches of World War I. Carey concentrates on the soldiers’ experience, hitting all the effective standards, but making them tie into Unwritten.

Actually, the questions he raises about stories, perceptions and reality during war are really interesting ones. He probably could get a decent limited series out of the concepts.

Gary Erskine’s art is good. The battlefields are either obviously frightening or Erskine just infers it. There’s a lot of refocusing but Erskine makes Taylor distinct enough to stand out.

The comic has a haunting quality. Even with all the magic, nothing compares to the lunacy of the war. Carey nicely lets Taylor revolt to jar the reader into paying attention. It’s a very serious issue. I don’t think Carey even goes for a smile. Well, maybe one.

CREDITS

The Whisper Line; writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; artist, Gary Erskine; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

The Unwritten 34 (April 2012)

860551

Perker’s finishes over Gross lead to a somewhat different look for the book. Besides Tom looking more like an action movie star than a twenty-something, there are some weird panel transitions. It’s not bad art, it just doesn’t feel like Unwritten at times.

It’s a combination of an action issue and a revelation one. The leader of the Cabal’s a good Bond villain who explains everything–multiple times–and there are a lot of explosions.

Carey weaves in a surprise–cheating, since the characters know about it but the reader doesn’t, but it plays well. Tom’s maturing as a character, the exposition is good, Lizzie and Richie have a good time. It’s a fine issue, but it just doesn’t wow.

It’s like Carey was giving more thought to the concurrently running .5 issues and letting the main story run on autopilot. Good material, smooth sailing, but not really engaging.

CREDITS

Tommy Taylor and the War of Words, Part Four; writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; pencillers, Gross and M.K. Perker; inker, Perker; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

The Unwritten 33.5 (March 2012)

853276

This issue’s exceedingly good. These .5 issues really do give Carey the ability to show off his talent; even though they relate to the main series, they don’t rely upon it fully. This issue’s about a soldier stationed at a great estate in the eighteenth century.

The story eventually ties into the regular Unwritten world, but for a while it’s just straight historical fiction. Carey shows the soldiers’ lives, he establishes their personalities, and then he lets his protagonist loose. And the protagonist gets himself into trouble.

The resolution to the issue, which features the big tie-in, is great. Peter Gross is really hesitant when it comes to visualizing the fantastic in this issue. It doesn’t have a place in the story, not how Carey’s telling it; Gross’s visualizations match the mundaneness. There’s never any glamour to it.

Carey, Gross and Vince Locke turn in a particularly great issue.

CREDITS

From The Lives of the Marionettes; writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; pencillers, Gross and Vince Locke; inker, Locke; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

The Unwritten 33 (March 2012)

853275

Something’s off about the art this issue. I can’t tell if it’s Gross or Perker, but something’s definitely off. Tom looks like a bland underwear model.

This issue features Tom’s assault on the Cabal. Lizzie and Richie both tell him he’s going too fast, which is also advice for Carey. There’s quick montage of Tom invading the headquarters–as the Cabal prepares their counterattack (based on Pullman’s obtuse advice)–but it’s rushed. No one seems like they’re enjoying themselves, particularly not Carey.

The issue gets some mileage out of Tom beating up the bad guys with magic–which Carey’s been hinting at for thirty issues–but the issue runs out of gas long before the finish.

Carey’s disinterest suggests the arc itself is for bridging, not just the issues. He needs to get Unwritten somewhere else and he’s not enjoying taking it there.

Even worse, Carey totally forgets Frankenstein’s Monster.

CREDITS

Tommy Taylor and the War of Words, Part Three; writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; pencillers, Gross and M.K. Perker; inker, Perker; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

The Unwritten 32.5 (February 2012)

853274

It’s more from the adventures of young Pullman. I was wondering if it would turn out to be him and it does. Not sure if it’s supposed to be a surprise–Dean Ormston, who “finishes” (which looks like all the art), doesn’t draw the traditional Pullman. He’s a lot dirtier here.

Given the story takes place around 2500 BCE, the dirt is no surprise.

Carey looses Pullman on poor Gilgamesh, who goes monster hunting on the villain’s suggestion. The issue makes certain aspects of the Unwritten mythology quite literal, which is neat. Ormston does a great job with monsters.

Gilgamesh narrates the issue, giving Carey the opportunity to show off writer chops, but it also gives the reader a new perspective. Even with the time period, the reader knows more than Gilgamesh about what he’s encountering. Or some of it, anyway.

It’s yet another excellent issue. Thoughtful, action-packed goodness.

CREDITS

Set in Stone; writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; pencillers, Gross and Dean Ormston; inker, Ormston; colorist, Fiona Stephenson; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: