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Shadowman #12 [Review]

shadowman012Deadside Blues; Lucky Charm; Blackout

Writers: Ales Kot, Christopher Sebela, Duffy Boudreau
Art: Cafu, Matthew Southworth, Diego Bernard, Alejandro Sicat
Colors: Andy Troy, Jose Villarrubia, Ian Hannin
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover Art: Dave Johnson and Kekai Kotaki
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve kinda lost the “flow” of this Shadowman title. Seems we’ve had a definite interruption of the ongoing story: a #0 issue, a “Halloween special,” and now this 3-complete-stories issue, as we await a new creative team that’s taking over.

While I’m all about done-in-one stories, self-contained issues, having 3 such stories in one regular-sized issue is a bit much (or short, depending on how one looks at it). These three seem rather slice-of-life; the simple stuff that’s not that big a challenge. They can’t be a big challenge–there’re only a handful of pages to get to the end of the situation as presented!

Given three stories, I’m not bothered by three visual styles in the issue. None of ’em particularly blew me away, but none struck me as annoying or hard to follow. Solid art doing what the art should do.

The stories themselves are a handful of pages apiece. Nothing particularly wrong with any of them–they all offer a touch of insight into Shadowman. They definitely make this feel like a “filler” issue…I’d’ve much rathered see these presented in place of multi-page “previews” in the back of Valiant‘s books. Original COMPLETE shorts to introduce non-readers of Shadowman to the character, and provide some incentive to Shadowman readers to maybe grab another issue. (Easy enough to suggest as a fan currently buying any/all Valiant singles).

Taken as a whole, I found the issue fairly mediocre. Not bad, but not wonderful; for the moment nothing in it seems particularly germane to anything ongoing. If you’re following the series and not inclined to skip issues, this is worth getting and reading. Though it stands alone in and of itself, readers would likely benefit quite a bit with context from having read earlier issues. If you’re looking for a jumping-in point, it seems the next issue will be the spot to do so.

If I wasn’t currently “all-in” on the Valiant books…I’m pretty sure I’d call it a day for now on the series, myself. As-is, I’m hoping this new creative team picks things up and runs next issue and shows me that I actively want to keep up with this title rather than passively “not drop” it.

Stumptown #1 [Review]

Written by: Greg Rucka
Illustrated by: Matthew Southworth
Colored by: Lee Loughridge
Design by: Keith Wood
Edited by: James Lucas Jones
Published by: Oni Press

This comic begins on some high action, much like many made-for-tv movies I recall from my youth…and from the initial climax we’re taken back to a day or so earlier where the story really begins, and follow events through to the opening pages, and then on to the rest of the issue’s story.

We’re introduced to Dex, a private investigator with a gambling issue. Having racked up plenty of debt, she’s offered a job that–rather than her being paid she’s to take in exchange for her gambling debt being forgiven. She’s sent to find the granddaughter of a powerful woman; and quickly discovers that there are other interested parties.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, but figured it’s the first issue of a new series, so why not? I’d give it a look-see. I’m no fan of the $3.99 price point, but I found myself toward the later part of the issue turning each page expecting to see the first page of a lotta pages of ads. Yet, to my surprise, the story just kept right on going up to the 2nd to last page in the issue. So while this carries that $4 price, it’s a lengthy read, which is quite satisfying.

THe art has a very stylistic feel to it. The color and linework is a bit gritty, and there’s a lot of color shift for tone throughout the issue. Flipping through it, there are multiple page segments that have an overall blue tone or a green, or black and white, and what-have-you. I didn’t really notice it as I read, but this shifting played a nice role in setting scenes apart and setting the mood in each.

The character and her immediate supporting cast come across as fairly stereotypical and formulaic; the situation she finds herself in is also rather cliche.

But somehow, I don’t really have a problem with that. I was pulled into the story, and as with most things: a foundation must be put in place to build upon. This issue has the introduction to the characters and settings, and sure they’re generic right now–but I’m confident from past enjoyment of Rucka’s work that there’ll be more information in the next few issues to make these characters unique and move them beyond mere stereotype.

While I often use the comparison, this was like both a made for tv movie in structure…but works quite well as a pilot episode, introducing things, posing questions to the audience, and leaving me interested in what comes next.

If you like this sort of PI drama, or Rucka’s work, or the art, or any combination of those I highly recommend this. As-is on its own it’s a decent piece of work, worth the $4 cover price to check it out and decide your own feelings on the issue.

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

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