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Chase Variant #1 [Review]

One Shot (Is All I Need)

By: Rich Johnston, Saverio Tenuta, and Bagwell
Variant cover by: Rob Liefeld
Published by: Image Comics

I tend to enjoy metatextual comics such as this. On the one hand, they’re fun, getting both a story and a commentary if one looks at multiple layers. At the same time, the drawback is that sometimes seeing those layers from the get-go can take one out of the story entirely.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Chase Variant, except that from the cover, it appears to be just another “bad girl” book, much as Image was known for in its earlier days. And the story opens up with a bang (two of ’em, actually), and immediately reveals its hook: the “main” story is that of a bioengineered government agent named (of course) Chase Variant. She has four arms, gun in each hand, and is a much revered, efficient assassin. She’s also, actually, a 1:1000 chase card in a collectible card game, which is being played out. 3/4 each page is the main story–the in-game story, if you will, of Chase as she knows herself. The other quarter-page looks at the cards in the “real world” as the game is being played.

The story is pretty basic, without much depth or character development. While that would be very, very bad for the debut issue of a new series, this is a one-off…a one-shot, and so lack of depth is much more forgivable. Where this excels is at drawing on the thoughts I’d imagine any gamer has had in playing a game, of trying to craft a visualization or story around the playing of cards which describe basic characters or actions. There are rules and structures to such games, perhaps even an overall story that informs the specific cards that can be used. But the story itself, each game in which the cards interact uniquely really plays out in the imaginations of the players, unlike a comic, movie, or video game.

The visuals are not bad. I’m unfamiliar with the artists offhand, so really don’t have anything prior to compare this work to. In and of itself, the art on this issue does a good job of depicting what’s going on; capturing that dark and gritty feel that the character’s world ought to have, were this an ongoing story. Other than the occasional gratuitous visual shot and the character’s get-up (which is actually commented on within the story), no real complaint.

This is a fairly unique one-shot. In some ways, it could be seen as a sort of adult Yu-Gi-Oh, in that the cardplay informs the story. At the same time, it seems like a commentary on such card games and the presence of rare chase cards, as well as the evolution of ways of playing any given game, and the cards that eventually get introduced into long-running games.

If you’re looking for something a bit different and without continuity–past/present/future–to deal with, this is a good issue for that. Certainly a worthwhile issue to keep an eye out for.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

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Secret Six #18 [Review]

Danse Macabre Part 3

Writers: Gail Simone & John Ostrander
Artist: J. Calafiore
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Colorist: Jason Wright
Editor: Sean Ryan
Cover: Daniel Luvisi
Published by: DC Comics

I’ve not been following this title to any great degree. I read the first 2-3 issues, and may have read one or two other issues prior to this Blackest Night tie-in. Still, I know enough of these characters to enjoy the issue, even lacking the full series’ context.

This issue sees the various members of the Six dealing with Black Lanterns, as well as Amanda Waller’s plan for combatting those same Lanterns. Essentially, the Six have to survive long enough for that plan to be put into motion–to retrieve an old Manhunter body to make use of its stored Green Lantern energy (which, along with another color light/energy is the only thing that can permanently put down the Black Lanterns). The end result of this gamble seems to indicate both change and revelation–at least to the reader, as Waller reveals her ultimate intent regarding the Six.

The story’s not bad, though it’s not terribly engaging, either. I don’t know all the characters well enough to get as much appreciation out of this issue as I’m sure others will get, but they’re not entirely unfamiliar. And though I am unfamiliar, I learned a bit more about a couple of ’em as I read this issue. Digging up an old Manhunter makes perfect sense to me, and a great solution for a bunch of essentially human characters to reasonably fight and have any hope at all of winning against multiple Black lanterns, when the bulk of the super-folks of the DCU aren’t around to intercede in this battle. It also roots the story in long-term history, as–and perhaps I’m wrong on this–the Manhunter is probably left over from Millennium. Waller’s presence seems like an added bonus, coming just after seeing Pam Grier taking the role of this character on Smallville‘s Absolute Justice movie/episode.

The art’s good stuff, too…while some faces seem to take on slightly different appearances here and there depending on their angles, on the whole the art is nicely detailed and the characters recognizable and distinct, and I really had no trouble following the action of the issue.

This issue wraps up what is one of the better tie-in stories to Blackest Night, as we see events unfold that appear to have contributed to the ongoing Secret Six arc, and yet plays well in the Blackest Night sandbox. This doesn’t really add anything to Blackest Night, but Blackest Night adds to this. Well worth picking up if you’ve been following the previous couple issues (this is the third of 3) and/or the main event.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 7.5/10

Booster Gold #29 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Booster Gold
Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4.5/5

Blue Beetle
Story: 2/5
Art: 3/5

Overall: 3.5/5

Adventure Comics #7 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Action Comics #886 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Action Comics
Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5

Captain Atom
Story: 0.5/5
Art: 2/5

Overall: 2.5/5

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