Review: Death of Hawkman #1

By Dustin Cabeal

I give the notion of killing Hawkman a 5 out of 5. Unfortunately, I won’t be giving this comic the same score. As far as comics go, this one is generic and lacks any real consequences. If Hawkman actually dies, that will likely be the only thing to happen in the comic. The main reason is the underdeveloped DC space line of books. What’s currently going on in them? Are there any? Nothing and no are the answers to those questions so being thrust into space to watch Hawkman die is almost as anti-climactic as seeing him alive at the beginning of the issue.

Read More

Review: Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #3

Well, things have certainly gotten wackier. There's a panel here where Steve Austin gets attacked by a machine gun-toting scientist astride a humanoid cephalopod crustacean. Said scientist fires wildly while screaming "Death to America." Following in the vein of issue two, events are escalating to an insane degree. Not in a way that feels controlled or thoughtful, mind you. There's just a lot of noise that you keep waiting to have focused into something like a coherent signal. That focus doesn't arrive until the final, disappointing moments of the issue. The story is holding still for the sake of an action-y installment in a story that hasn't really earned such a reprieve. You have no reason to care about anyone other than the poor civilians caught in the middle of this ridiculous scuffle. Even they wear away at my patience, though. I just don't get the Hasselhoff gag. Nor do I want to. 6mdmfom03-cov-a-salasIssue three is driven by a gimmick. Most of its panels are spread across multiple pages, lengthening scenes horizontally, like a train. Action travels along in this way, with characters appearing in different poses to convey motion. It is an experiment with exciting potential. However, there's too much clutter in the art. Comic illustrators sometimes communicate consecutive flashes of action by drawings a character in key frames. Each pose is a moment in frozen time. Done well, there's logic and fluidity to this technique. Done poorly, you get what looks to be a page full of confused clones. Fall of Man sadly uses this method of storytelling to the point of annoyance. It's like an action movie overindulging in slow motion and quick cuts. There's no reason for it, and the book suffers for it. Issue three of Fall of Man is all about the art. And the art is fine, but never more than fine. There's plenty going on, but the art makes it frustrating to keep up. At other times the art is just goofy. A lot of the action poses are particularly silly, like the way rival cyborg Hiller casually hops atop the cars of a speeding train. He's so dainty about it. It's adorable. I don't think that's what Ron Salas intended.

You're not especially well rewarded for paying attention even if you're able to do so. The story barely budges in this issue. I'm still not clear on why Steve Austin wants so desperately to prevent the creation of a cyborg army. Nor am I sure who I'm supposed to be siding with here. Hiller is a creep, for sure. And the OSI has made little effort to explain themselves to Steve. But Steve is like a toddler in a tantrum, tearing his way across the world with little purpose or reason. Don't expect any revelations or twists. Don't look for anything startlingly clever in this spy thriller. Van Jensen is wrestling with this push and pull between weird espionage and mindless action. Three issues deep, and I think it's clear which is getting pushed and which has all the pull.

Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man works best if you relax and let the action wash over you. Though, really, that's like asking you to turn off your brain. Thinking should not hurt your enjoyment of a thing. And, in this case, thinking is the enemy.

[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #3 Writer: Van Jensen Artist: Ron Salas Colorist: Michael Atiyeh and Caitlin McCarthy Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-series; Print/Digital


Review: Lady Killer 2 #2

Josephine Schuller is one busy lady. She has a pair of very active twins running around their new Florida home, she’s helping her husband charm the new boss by hosting them and going to events of his liking, and she’s trying to start her own contract assassin business on her own! Lady Killer 2 #2 brings Irving back into the mix, as she’s struggling to get rid of a body, he comes in offering to help with him and a possible business arrangement. As she’s trying to take it into consideration, she finds out that more people have taken notice of her setting up shop in a new town on her own.

lady-killer-2-2The focus on the business aspect of Josie's’ work is welcomed in this issue, as she talked about going solo and the hierarchy of her former employers being mostly shrouded in mystery, there is a nice change from the business side of things catching up with her personal life in an unexpected way. Irving making an appearance while she’s with her family reminds of a Jesse Pinkman showing up at the home of Walter White during the very beginning of the relationship. But unlike Walter, Josephine already has her Heisenberg side polished and ready to work.

Joelle Jones seems comfortable drawing veteran assassin Josie. There is more attitude in her face now; her expressions cool down but her face ages ever so slightly. This is a Die Hard 2 John McClane type of Josie. She’s well lived and gone through hell to get what she wants, and now she wants to maintain it. The Josie depicted on Lady Killer 2 has miles of experience and knows the volatile nature of her current situation, as she tries to get ahead of it during this issue. During a conversation she has at a bingo hall, Josie is being praised for some of her accomplishments and the ways she has carried out some jobs. In her facial expressions, she is trying to figure out who meddles in her business, while keeping it cool and calculated. This is the moment where she would ask them to say her name and reply “you’re goddamn right.”

One of the things that felt missing in this issue was the gore. Joelle Jones’ line work and crisp lines combined with spatter of blood and body parts is something that works very well together; it was what hooked me on those first pages in from issue one in the last series. Although there is some in this issue, I am eagerly awaiting for more blood, broken bones that stick out of the skin, and bruises that make Lady Killer dance in the line between a Mad Men with assassins and a cult horror film.

[su_box title="Score: 4/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Lady Killer 2 #2 Writer/Artist: Joelle Jones Colorist: Michelle Madsen Letters: Crank! Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital


Review: Space Battle Lunchtime #3

Plucky protagonist Peony proceeds to establish herself, particularly off-camera if not on. Her infectious good nature is winning people over as chaos erupts from the petty conniving among other contestants. And I wish I could be more excited about the way things are going. Sadly, this issue is so similar to issue two it hurts. Space Battle Lunchtime has hit a lull something fierce. It feels like it's going to coast on the cute dialogue, the beauty of its art style and the charm of its idiosyncratic character designs.

We get a better look into Peony's mind this issue. Much of her personality gets expressed through the subtlety of Natalie Riess' illustrations. Peony's expressions are surprisingly soulful and panels Space Battle Lunchtime #3are composed very nicely to show off body language. Our hero still seems like a silent passenger in her own story, but I feel I understand her more now that I've seen her reaction to adversity. She frames the human-as-alien experience within her core competency. And that frame expands to impact her interactions with these strange circumstances. Peony is a (presumably good) cook and, though her confidence may waver, she knows what she can do. She's asserting herself through the use of her most obvious skill as a kitchen wizard. Beyond that, the book is building up Peony's ability to attract others. And that’s it. The book really needs her to take a more active role in the weak plot if only for the sake of giving her something new to do.

I'd like to see Riess explore more of the universe she has created. I can appreciate the book's narrow focus on the battle kitchen. However, I worry that the central appeal of Space Battle Lunchtime -- its weird alien setting -- will prove boring by the end of the mini-series. In a book where every character seems to come from a different species I'd like to learn more about the people whose judgment and behavior I'm supposes to find entertaining.

I don't know how well the series will hold up. The structure is beginning to wear thin, the characters are in a holding pattern, and I'm losing interest in the competition that gives the book its name. Space Battle Lunchtime hasn't lost me yet, but I'm not tremendously optimistic about the book's future.

[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Space Battle Lunchtime #3
Writer: Natalie Riess
Artist: Natalie Riess
Publisher: Oni Press
Price: $3.99
Format:  Mini-Series; Print/Digital