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Captain Midnight #0 [Review]

captainmidnight000frontWritten by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Victor Ibanez and Pere Perez
Colors by: Ego
Letters by: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover by: Raymond Swanland
Back Cover by: Steve Rude
Designer: David Nestelle
Editor: Jim Gibbons
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Captain Midnight #0 has a lot of things going for it.

First (and primarily, for me) it is only $2.99, but it’s a “full size” issue. Looks like a full issue, feels like a full issue, reads like a full issue.

Secondly, it has a really nice-looking cover that grabbed my attention in spite of myself. Often, the cover is not going to grab me–I’m solely looking for the TITLEs (which is how I often wind up with an UNwanted variant edition: I simply see a title logo and issue number, and it’s not til I’m home about to read that I realize it’s NOT the image I wanted.) Additionally, there’s ANOTHER full-cover image on the BACK of the issue: instead of being a whole separate EDITION to have too purchase to have, this cool image is included with the “standard” cover, but I still get to look at it, in-print, ON the issue I bought!

Thirdly, this is a #0, but not proclaimed on the cover to be “of ____” and so it more effectively stands alone–it’s not specifically saying that it’s the first issue of a mini-series. It may be a prologue, a foundation-stone, a beginning that sets up a mini-series or ongoing series, but in and of itself it’s just a single, one-shot stand-alone issue.

And this is all without even getting to the contents of the issue itself.

captainmidnight000backThis issue made it to the bottom of my (admittedly small 4-issue stack) of new issues for the week. Yet–much as I enjoy TMNT stuff from IDW these days–this wound up being my favorite issue of the week. I’d bought it on a whim–see paragraphs above–but had found myself with second thoughts, ready to write it off as a stupid extra purchase in an otherwise “small week.”

We open with a World War II-ear plane suddenly appearing…and present-day military is not at all thrilled at this out-of-the-blue Bermuda Triangle invader. They’re even less thrilled when the pilot does more than parachute out of the plane–he’s dressed in a unique uniform–with “wings”–allowing him extreme maneuverability beyond any expectation.

Complicating things further, their new “guest” refuses to give up information about what he is doing–his mission–claiming that to be “top secret” information. He is recognized as looking like a hero who disappeared during WWII, but most of those involved can’t believe him to be the same man, the “legend” or “fairy tale” they’ve heard about for years. A past associate of the man is brought into things, which opens the door to other revelations.

I’m not familiar with the artist for this issue–not consciously, anyway–and truthfully, I hardly even NOTICED the art as I read…which in this case means it did its job extremely well. It simply gets the story across, I’m not left wondering what’s going on or wasting extra time trying to piece together the action from what I see in any given panel. The art IS the visual of the story, it flows smoothly, and I have no problems with it whatsoever.

The story itself is engaging, well beyond any best-expectations I had for the issue. Though I mentioned earlier this made it to the bottom of my stack, that was words unread, visuals unseen but for the cover. When I started reading the issue, I immediately “assumed” this was going to be yet another WWII-era story somehow, and one way or the other resigned myself to something I wouldn’t particularly enjoy. Yet, I quickly found myself, page after page, hoping the next page was not a cliffhanger, not the end of the issue. And when I did reach the end of the issue, little as I even now know of the characters, even cliché as the situation is (think: Captain America via different ‘delivery’ to the Present), I’m interested.

Though this is largely prologue-type material, quasi-origin-issue and such, and doesn’t answer a whole lot or really have a particular ending (keeping it from being a fully self-contained issue), it’s well worth checking out; if it’s going to hook you, it will…else, it’s still something “new” “tried” for one issue at 25% less on the cover price of the umpteen double-shipping Marvel books.

Combined with the relative “bargain” pricing of $2.99 and being such an enjoying read without me feeling suckered, I have every intention of picking up #1 next month, regardless of whether Captain Midnight is “only” a mini-series or an actual ongoing series.

The Massive #s 1-3 [Review]

A couple months ago, give or take a week or so, I was at a semi-local comic shop that I get to every now and then, but no great regularity. I don’t recall now what I was looking for at the time, but I wound up buying two issues apiece of The Massive and Mind the Gap, figuring I’d “try” a couple new series. But the way my luck goes–spend full price on something, and got distracted by other stuff.

So I only just a week or so back finally read The Massive. And, being labeled on the front cover as parts 1 and 2 of 3, I went ahead and bought the third issue this past weekend to finish out the first arc.

Written by: Brian Wood  /  Art by: Kristian Donaldson  /  Colors by: Dave Stewart  /  Letters by: Jared K. Fletcher  /  Covers by: Brian Wood, Kristian Donaldson, Rafael Grampa, Dave Stewart, J. P. Leon  /  Designer: Justin Couch  /  Assistant Editor: Jim Gibbons  /  Editor: Sierra Hahn  /  Published by: Dark Horse Comics  /  Cover Price: $3.50

The basic premise of the series as a whole seems to be that a series of huge environmental disasters happened that have screwed up most of the world’s governments and such, leaving the world in an everyone-for-themselves-or-their-power-base kind of state. Central to the story are several characters on the ship Kapital–one ship of a 2-ship fleet, as they seek out their sister ship (the larger of the two)–The Massive.

Mixed in with the ongoing events–evading pirates, restocking material resources for survival, etc.–we get flashbacks to see where the characters have come from, the stuff that makes up their relationships now.

The art isn’t bad–it’s got a nice style to it, conveying these “normal” humans going about their lives in this world. I use “normal” as opposed to the depiction of super-heroes and the flashier sort of thing you’d expect for that sort of comic. While the world they live in has changed drastically, these are just normal people getting by in somewhat extraordinary situations.

The story itself is a solid premise, and the characters seem like real people, with real lives, histories, and all that. Giving backstory as well as present story allows the exploration of two periods in characters’ lives, with plenty of depth for both periods and a lot of room to juxtapose things.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I just don’t find myself terribly engaged with anything in this first arc.

I find myself comparing this to the likes of a new tv show. If the Buffy season 8 & 9 comics can use each small arc as an “episode,” then this 3-parter is definitely a pilot episode. Yet, because it’s a comic series, it’s also already 3 issues in. I’m interested, yes, even though not really engaged…but like most tv shows these days, I’ll wait for word of mouth and reruns or the dvd (or in this case, collected volumes).

There’s something in general about The Massive that puts me in mind of stuff like Y: The Last Man or DMZ, where I have this feeling this is going to go somewhere, and have some strong character development, world-building, and generally be a great overall work. It’s just not working for me in the single-issue format; I’m not interested in (even though it’s less than my hated $3.99 point) paying $3.50/month to get tiny chapters of one greater whole. Assuming this goes on to be one of these longform finite stories, I’ll probably come back to it someday.

While it’s no $9.99 “bargain priced premiere volume” a la Vertigo or some of the Image stuff, I gave this just over $10, and while it’s not the greatest $10 I’ve ever spent, it’s a far cry from the worst.

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