Review: Frostbite #1

By Chris Tresson

This week, I’m looking at the first issue of frostbite, a new science fiction story from Joshua Williamson and Jason Shawn Alexander which is being published by Vertigo. It’s something different from this publisher, I can’t remember the last Sci-fi Title I read from Vertigo…Nope. I was going to fill in what I thought it was right there but I still can’t think what it could've been. I’m going to say this is the first they’ve put out in a while. So it’s a step in a different direction for the moment for Vertigo but for comics as a whole, it’s just another drop in the ocean. Let’s get to it…

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Review: Nailbiter #25

Nailbiter is the story of a small town in Oregon named Buckaroo that over the years has spawned a bunch of different serial killers. Throughout the town's history, many have come to investigate and try to find out the secret of Buckaroo and what is causing these people to turn into murderers. This series focuses on Crane, the Sheriff of Buckaroo, Warren, a serial killer that got off of his charges and lives in the town, an Army interrogation specialist named Finch that has been called to the town to try to find his friend, a journalist that had made a major discovery into this small town's secrets as well as Alice, one of the local teens. Issue 25 starts us off with the newest and most unknown butcher, clad in all black and wearing a helmet with large horns, dragging Alice into an underground chamber. He is telling her that they are similar in that when he was younger, he too was very curious about the town and the kind of people it was creating, but before he could find out the secret the town affected him too. They come to an agreement that he will tell her the secret of the town just so long as she takes “the test.”

Nailbiter25_CoverMeanwhile Crane, Finch and some guy named Morty (whom I suspect is the mortician) are investigating any clues as to the location of both Warren and Alice, as they are all under the assumption that Warren is the one that took Alice. A woman shows up and tells them that Warren would have taken her to the school, and after a small altercation between Crane and the woman, they head there.

I really don't want to go into much more detail after that. If you've been following this story for this long, you're probably chomping at the bit to find out what happens next. I've been following this story pretty closely from the beginning and will tell you that I am still impressed and drawn in by each new issue. The art by Mike Henderson has been solid since the beginning. Like all artists, you'll find maybe a wonky eye or a little bit of a depth issue in a panel or two here and there, but for the most part, I always enjoy his work, especially during the scenes where someone is murdering someone. He does the art in such a way that there is a lot of movement in the scene, which makes for a better book.

Joshua Williamson is the writer of the story, and he too has remained solid from the start. Characters like Warren can be charming and terrifying in a turn of the page, while others like Finch are stern and determined with every word bubble. Teens are also written like teens, not like an adult's idea of what teens sound like. The story itself is enthralling and well-written, with good twists and turns. There may be some seemingly clichéd characters here and there, but they usually reveal to have more going on under the surface.

Overall I've truly enjoyed this series from the start. I would love to go on and on, but if you've made it this far in the series, you wouldn't want it ruined anyways. There is no recap page in this book, so if you are just starting on this series and enjoy a goody mystery, go back and pick up the trades.

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Nailbiter #25 Writer: Joshua Williamson Artist: Mike Henderson Colorist: Adam Guzowski Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital


Review: The Flash #3

I’m a self-confessed fan of The Flash, it’s in my bio for this site and as a fan I must say I was rather disappointed in this issue. Titled "Speed City," this instalment shows us Central City ravaged by the after-effects of a Speed Force storm that created new speedsters absolutely everywhere, and now they’re racing through the streets.  Of course, not all wish to use their newfound powers for good. Some rob banks, cause mayhem etc, etc, ad nauseam

This is actually my biggest gripe with the book. The writing is just lazy: it doesn’t feel grown up at all as it retests tired old tropes and lackluster dialogue.  Why must we have page after page of The Flash talking to himself?  I know maybe they’re trying to re-establish him in the events of Rebirth but this is not the way to do it.  Rather than feeling like the Barry Allen I (and many others) know and love, he feels like a scarlet cliche, quipping out tiring one-liners about justice and doing the right thing.  The key to showing these qualities is through nuance and subtlety, not repeatedly stating them outright.

FLS_Cv3_dsMy eyes often rolled as I followed Barry and his new partner August across the city as they try to contain the outbreak.  S.T.A.R Labs are even involved now, it appears they’ve set up a speedster training facility to help the good ones come to terms with their powers.  A neat idea but poorly executed here.  The only saving grace is the art from Carmine Di Giandomenico, which offers us some superb depictions of The Flash at times. It reminded me a lot of the previous Flash: Rebirth title from Geoff Johns.  Even here, though, things are still a little hit and miss. the art isn’t consistent and at times our lovable Scarlet Speedster seems to have legs that stretch a city block.  Plascencia’s colours make up for this, his work is almost hypnotic at times, it makes me want to look at each page for longer and just soak it all in.  Plus there are a few full-page panels that pull together these creator’s talents beautifully, just take a look at the last page where we see an exceptionally well-drawn character and new villain of the piece.

There are a few other things to like in this issue but they are few and far between. Flash’s new partner, August, is drawn brilliantly and almost has a Hugo Strange like vibe on some panels.  There’s also a touching moment between The Flash and a little girl desperately wrestling with her new speed powers, unable to control them.  Barry kneels down next to her and with great compassion talks her through it, showing her a little exercise she can use to help regain control.  I found this especially touching and was this book’s best representation of the speeding hero I love.  Please give us more of this Williamson!  I beg you, you really nailed it there.

If you’re a fan of The Flash, you’ll probably keep reading these new Rebirth titles regardless of their faults but there are others in the new lineup more deserving of your money.  This is a story that could go somewhere but it’s got a lot to show me yet.

Just keep running, Barry.  Run, Barry, run.

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The Flash #3 Writer: Joshua Williamson Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico Colorist: Ivan Plascencia Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital [/su_box]