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Bill and Ted’s Most Triumphant Return #1 [Review]

billandtedsmosttriumphantreturn001Written by: Brian Lynch
Pencils by: Jerry Gaylord
Inks by: Jerry & Penelopy Gaylord
Colors by: Whitney Cogar
Letters by: Jim Campbell
Cover: Felipe Smith, Rob Guillory
Designer: Scott Newman
Assistant Editor: Alex Galer
Editor: Ian Brill
Published by: Boom! Studios
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I must confess: though I bought the two Bill & Ted movies on dvd awhile back, I have yet to watch those dvds, and it’s possible that I haven’t actually watched either film since my sophomore year of college more than a decade back.

I was vaguely aware that there was to be a new Bill & Ted comic, having noted some press release or headline about Boom! getting the property…but it wasn’t until a few days before this issue’s release that I was actually consciously aware of and looking for it. And even seeing it in the store, I noted that the cover specifies this is "No. 1 of 6," which translates (for me) to "serialized graphic novel." And even the title itself, the emphasis on Most Triumphant Return over Bill & Ted suggests this is a single, finite story and so whether as the comic it is or some tv/movie analogy, after this story it will no longer be a return, and so there’d be some other title there.

But the nostalgia got me, and while the characters look absolutely ridiculous on the cover, just the NOTION of something new and contemporary with Bill & Ted was something I couldn’t bring myself to pass up, at least to check out a first issue. (And in a bit of interesting timing, DC Comics is doing a "movie posters" variant theme for the month, and the Action Comics issue riffing on Bill & Ted was also released this week).

This issue opens basically seconds after the end of the film Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. The guys are at the Battle of the Bands, having just won; kids in tow, the babes nearby, Station and Death hanging around, the guys’ destiny has begun. They have a hit song that will eventually bring world peace and all that, they’ve been to hell and back…so where do they go from here? We follow them in the immediate aftermath as they try to settle into some semblance of normalcy with a full apartment, kids, Station, the Good Robot Thems…and time-travelers eager to visit The Great Ones. Realizing they have no idea about their next song (let alone a whole album) or how to deal with facing a future they’re responsible for, the two acquire a phone booth and travel to the future to sit in on a Bill & Ted 101 class. Once there, they make a remarkable discovery.

The cliffhanger comes on the 16th page…but there’s a backup feature.

Bill & Ted and the Bogus Virus

Written by: Ryan North
Illustrated by: Ian McGinty
Colors & Letters by: Fred Stresing

This 6-page short does not seem to be set in any particular timeframe, but given the presence of the Good Robot Thems, presumably is during/after Bogus Journey. Essentially, the Robots get an email from the future, from the Evil Robots, and they’re corrupted to be totally bogus, prompting Bill & Ted to take them to the future where technology should exist to fix their pals. While the technology is iffy, a solution is arrived at that fixes the issue and leaves everyone content.

The art for the main story is solid, though a bit cartooney. It’s a stylized thing, and while I wouldn’t like it for a superhero comic or an adaptation of an existing on-screen thing (such as one of the films) as its own thing taking the characters and telling a new story it works very well and several times actually made me smile just taking in the (exaggerated) looks on faces, etc. I like it as the characters are recognizable and I can follow what’s going on…but it’s not at all trying to capture the actors’ likenesses. This is a comic book, a fictional story about fictional characters, and it doesn’t try to be anything else and just revels in the simple fun-ness of the property.

The art on the backup is even more cartooney/stylized, and something about it just doesn’t work nearly as well for me. It’s not bad in itself, but it’s sorta unexpected and the layouts are rather crowded and after reading the main story (perhaps specifically for following and being in the same issue with it) I don’t care for the look. It’s good art, just not as appealing for me personally.

That said, McGinty‘s style puts me very much in mind of a webcomic, and if this were a Bill & Ted webcomic I’d probably be very happy with it. The story works for what it is, fits the characters and all that, and was an enjoyable read.

The main story is a nice blend of nostalgia and new, taking the familiar and moving things forward…and I really like that this isn’t trying to be Bill & Ted Twenty Years Later, but picks up and draws directly on where the movies left off.

The primary drawback to this issue and series is that it’s not an ongoing, so I’m very resistant to buying single issues when I "know" there will be a collected volume and I can have the entire story in one book. I’m also rather frustrated that the "main" story is a mere 16 pages, and the "backup" brings the total of content pages to the "standard" 22. This is a $3.99 book, a price point I’ve long hated, and the main story doesn’t even reach the 20-page mark. At 16 pages/issue that’ll make a six-issue arc a mere 96 pages…which could easily be done in a mere 3 issues that are slightly oversized.

Competing with the $3.99 price point for me is the issue of variant covers–I’m not a huge fan of this standard cover, but I absolutely have no interest in getting one of a number of variants pushed for this one.

As a whole, this is definitely a good issue, and I’m glad I bought it to check things out. I’ll probably wait for a collected volume, though–knowing this is a finite story I just don’t like the notion of paying $3.99 for 16-page chunks of a single story.

Definitely recommended, format depends on your preference for single issues vs. collected edition.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series: Leonardo [Review]

Script by: Brian Lynch
Art by: Ross Campbell
Colors by: Jay Fotos
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover by: David Petersen
Published by: IDW

The turtles’ father, Splinter, has just been kidnapped by Hob. As the turtles spread out to cover more ground, Leo heads back to Stockman’s place, determined to rescue his father. As he proceeds, he finds himself thinking back to his past life as revealed recently by Splinter, and we as readers see how that’s a driving force for the character. Before long, Leo finds himself fighting some Foot ninjas…and then some more, and even more, and before long he’s got no clue how many there are, but they’re more than he seems able to handle. Eventually, most leave, and Leo is treated to one on one combat with an elite ninja, and the battle severely wounds his pride, to say the least, leaving him to limp home to his brothers with no new word on Splinter.

The art works pretty well overall here. The only sort of oddity to me is that the visual style makes Leo in particular look too young, almost. But on the whole, good art, and the story’s easy to follow without feeling lost or having any major gripes with the art.

Story-wise, this isn’t the greatest, but it’s still good. While we get some addition to the overall TMNT continuity in general and see the Foot are quite numerous (and I have my suspicion about the identity of the elite one-on-one combatant being far more important than is let on here), a certain element of the story feels rather cliche and thus a bit “forced.” The ORIGINAL Leonardo one-shot saw him out in the city and suddenly in conflict with a great many Foot ninjas, ultimately being bested by the Shredder. So having this put Leo in position of being out in the city, in conflict with a great many Foot ninjas, and facing a superior combatant while not being a re-telling of that original story just doesn’t sit quite right with me.

That said…when I get past the critical/analytical part of my mind…it’s Leonardo. Fighting the Foot, cutting loose with his swords (even though there’s no gore to be found visually). So frankly…I enjoyed the issue. I really did. Just not quite as much as I might have had I not been so looking forward to it…the thing couldn’t live up to my perconcieved expectations.

As with the first 3 of these issues…this tells a nice side-story focusing on a solo turtle, while pushing the overall story forward a bit, introducing elements that are going to surely be quite important to the main series before too much longer.

That this issue is primarily fighting makes it less than ideal as a single jump-on point, though fans specifically of Leo will probably enjoy this well enough. Though this is technically a separate thing from the ongoing series and is not essential, it feels pretty important, and so long as you’re enjoying the entire rebirth of the TMNT-verse, treating this as a continuation of the main series is probably the most enjoyable way to take the issue in.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series: Donatello [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries: Raphael


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

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