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The Rest of the Stack Catch-Up: Miscellaneous (July/Early-August 2012)

The Rest of the Stack logo

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted much, so this is part of my “catching up” on the past month and a half or so.

GAMBIT #1

I picked this up because it was a new #1, a new start on a new Gambit series. I loved the original ongoing from ’99-’01 by Nicieza, and figured I’d check in on the character here. The issue itself is pretty good–we see Gambit in full thief mode, having fun with what he does, and while I can’t quite place all of his apparent motivations as being “fitting,” they work here, and I once again can totally “buy” Gambit as a solo act without needing the other X-Men. The art’s solid, though there’s something just a little bit “off” for me. Unfortunately, with other problems I’m having with Marvel lately–particularly the pending Marvel Now renumbering/relaunching of so many books; even if this stays at $2.99, it’s not enough and too late for me to truly care to “invest” in a long-form limited series right now. I’ll catch up in collected volumes or bargain bins if anything much pans out for this book. (8/10)

X-O MANOWAR #3

Normally I’m not a fan of decompression, especially lately…certainly not in a $3.99 book. But I’m loving this new X-O Manowar series. The story’s still seeming very familiar, keeping the basics of the character (as I recall ’em, anyway) pretty close to the classic version, just updated quite a bit to present-day comic sensibilities. The art’s a bit rough, but somehow fits the tone of the comic and the character in a way that works. I’m not all that familiar with characters’ individual names and such yet, but the issue works well for me just enjoying the story in and of itself. (7.5/10)

WALKING DEAD #101

Perhaps I’m over-simplifying a bit, but this (like its predecessor, the over-hyped #100) is a strong “next chapter” of the ongoing Walking Dead story. The art’s solid as always, maintaining the usual consistency–it looks and feels like an issue of The Walking Dead. The story moves forward, as the various characters react to what happened last issue, and begin to figure out what to do next. And of course, “to be continued.” I don’t know how much longer I’m going to stay on the “singles” bandwagon this time–I’m trying to tell myself to go back to the trades after this arc…but we’ll see. (7/10)

ANTI #1

I was surprised when the LCS owner mentioned this title to me when I recently revised my pull-list, as I had completely forgotten about it. I mean…it didn’t even ring any bells at all. So when I got it, I realized where it had come from: I must’ve requested it based on the Free Comic Day issue back in May. And for $1, figured I’d give it a shot. The art’s not bad, though it has that certain luminescent effect, a lightness even to the dark images, that so often makes me think “adaptation of something from TV” or some such, and the story (while it pulled me through the issue) is ultimately kinda forgettable, and I kept thinking as I read how this really seemed like something intended more for TV but relegated to comic book form. It’s also kinda telling that the selling point (which is what caught ME) is that it’s got Gale Anne Hurd‘s involvement, somehow…and that none of the actual creators who worked on story or art are even listed on the cover. I haven’t 100% decided either way on this title…I’ll probably give it another issue or two to really wow me, but at the moment I don’t see staying with this long. (6/10)

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Dead Man’s Run #s 0 & 1 [Review]

Full Circle; Man Down
Written by: Greg Pak
Illustrated by: Tony Parker
Colored by: Peter Steigerwald; David Curiel
Lettered by: Josh Reed
Covers 0C, 1A: Tony Parker, Peter Steigerwald
Published by: Aspen Comics

I came into Dead Man’s Run having no honest idea what it was about. The title itself suggested maybe someone dies and comes back, or has some fatal countdown looming and they have some mission to carry out despite knowing death is imminent.

Turns out there’s this prison, with guards and all that…and what they’re guarding is Hell. Like…THAT Hell. Their prisoners belong there, and they basically just make sure they stay put. There’s a warden who seems to be something more, and some plot seems to be in motion.

The zero issue sees the death of a guard who with his last breath as a live man requests another. In the premiere issue, we meet Sam–a doomed cartographer who finds himself stuck in Hell at the side of the deceased guard, who seems poised to show Sam a whole different world than he ever dreamed existed. Meanwhile, we get a hint at the nature of the warden, and some of Sam’s motivation (the car wreck that he died in and woke up in Hell also left his sister in Hell–something he’s not going to take lying down).

This #0 and #1 really feel like the pilot episode of a tv series, more than just the premiere of a new comic series. The story–what’s set up so far and where it seems it might go, and the execution–seem very cinematic in a tv sort of way. I’m not entirely thrilled with that, because I don’t know that I want to READ a tv series.

That said…the story’s got a couple interesting hooks that leave me curious for the next issue. The art is very solid and in general makes the story flow. Stylistically it doesn’t seem at all like a super-hero comic (which is good, because this most certainly is not of that genre) nor does it seem hyper-realistic. It just has a comfortable feel that carries things alone.

The writing is solid…I know next to nothing about these characters, but there’s enough there for the potential to shine. It’ll be interesting to find out more about Sam’s past and the relationship with his sister–and if there’s anything special about either of them that’ll play into things. The prison guard, too, has a glimmer of something more. The glimpses we get of the warden suggest a lot more to her as well, that COULD wind up being cliche, or could provide something that might make for an interesting (eventual) comparison to the Hell we find in Gaiman‘s The Sandman: Season of Mists.

I made the reference above about this being like a tv series. Using that comparison….this puts me in mind of the first season of Prison Break if the imprisoned brother arranged for the other to be jailed, but dealing with a prison of hellfire and brimstone rather than steel and concrete.

Aside from the story and art, there’s also the fact that this is backed by Gale Anne Hurd’s studio…so I’m inclined to give this a bit of time to take shape if someone who helped to get The Walking Dead from comic to tv endorses it.

I received these two issues free as review copies, so the only up front cost to me was the time taken to read these. I don’t see a price on the #0 issue, but #1 is listed as $3.50…which earns points from me for being $.49 cheaper than most Marvel comics. As something cheaper than a standard Marvel, I’m more apt to buy #2 than I am one of those $3.99 Marvels.

The story so far seems to be–as said–like a pilot episode, so I’m not entirely sold on the singles, but reading these has me definitely interested in either picking up the next issue when I notice it on the shelf, or at least checking back before too long for a graphic novel collection.

You could certainly do much worse than this book…and it’s not off to a bad start at all.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

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