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Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Dynamite) #1 [Review]

turokdinosaurhunterdynamite001 Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Mirko Colak
Colorist: Lauren Affe
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Cover: Bart Sears
Turok Logo Design: Rian Hughes
Packaged/Edited by: Nate Cosby
Published by: Dynamite
Cover Price: $3.99

It wasn’t all that long ago that I learned of Dark Horse relaunching several former Gold Key titles, which grabbed my attention as former Valiant properties that I recognized from the 1990s. I saw it as a good point to jump aboard, as presumably the closest I was gonna get to a Valiant rebirth. Those titles only lasted a few months, and while I rather enjoyed them at the start, my interest trickled off with ’em. SINCE then, though…

Since then, Valiant‘s back, with a number of great titles proving the characters and universe have an audience…and are still going strong nearly 2 years in (a rather large accomplishment, to me, in an age of mini-series and things generally just not lasting).

So it’s with my enjoyment of the Valiant books that I’m checking out Dynamite‘s relaunching of the Gold Key titles. If Valiant itself can do well…then hey, here’s hoping Dynamite can hold it together for a couple years.

Outside of the names and basic premise (that is, humans existing in a world with dinosaurs still around), this seems a wholly fresh start. Where I recall the Dark Horse run being a closer re-telling (and those premiere issues included a reprint of the original series’ first issues), this seems much more like I expected based on the above Valiant comparison.

We’re introduced to a father vowing to protect his child, before being killed. Flashing ahead 16 years, we find that child an outcast, bullied but surviving on his own…to the chagrin of the others. When confronted he refuses to give in–it’s better (to him) to be alone. The latest confrontation is broken up by a surprise attack by large lizard creatures, which Turok and Andal (a name I recall from the Dark Horse iteration) barely survive as we learn what caused the attack.

Along with the general “strength” of the Valiant titles serving as influence to my buying this, I recognize writer Greg Pak from other stuff I’ve enjoyed…most recently Planet Hulk as well as Valiant‘s own Eternal Warrior. This issue and title benefits from my still relative unfamiliarity with Turok and cast–I only remember reading the first issue of the Dark Horse run and can’t honestly recall if I read beyond that.

I appreciated the use of “time” in this issue, seeing the past, present, and the flashbacks…actually following what was going on to pick up on a tone I feel I miss in a lot of comics. As a first issue goes, this definitely hits points I look for: we’re introduced to the main protagonist, to other characters, learn something of the protagonist and their status quo, and are introduced to the conflict. In less generalized terms: We meet Turok, we meet other characters including Andal, we get dinosaurs, and we get Turok fighting dinosaurs. Maybe more importantly to me…there’s no pretentious last-page spread/cliffhanger “revealing” that dinosaurs exist, as if the very title Dinosaur Hunter doesn’t tell us that.

There were several panels I had some trouble following who was who and exactly what was going on at first glance, but that was mainly during a fight sequence and I can’t imagine it being any worse than trying to visually parse out a fast-moving camera sequence for a movie or tv series. By and large the art is good, and I like the look of the characters, and there’s nothing particularly off-putting or distracting to me.

My primary problem with this issue is the variant covers–I’m used to there at least being some sort of notation on the cover declaring it a variant or not so had some frustration at determining exactly which cover of several was the “regular” or “standard” edition…ultimately identifying this by matching the front cover image with the interior cover (only later at home discoverng a 3-page gallery of thumbnails showing off all the variants for the issue). That identification is part of my preference for standard covers: I prefer the cover that is acknowledged in marketing and such and “fits” the issue and story. If a cover image is going to double up incorporated on the interior, I want the aesthetic of matching, not recognizing a difference.

Other than that and on the whole…I enjoyed this issue. As soon as I saw it at the shop, it was the main thing I wanted to get into and read, and it definitely measured up. The aforementioned issue with variant covers makes me hesitant to put it on a pull list, as I don’t want to get stuck with a variant, and I have a far lower tolerance for that with Dynamite than I do Valiant.

You need not have read anything involving Turok before to get in here, though there’ll undoubtedly be familiar elements if you have. This is functionally a new title and character, there’s no pre-existing continuity to know, you only need one copy of this issue to get into the story-so-far.

Definitely recommended.

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Harbinger #15 [Review]

harbinger015Writer: Joshua Dysart
Penciler: Barry Kitson
Inks: Stefano Gaudiano and Mark Pennington
Colorist: Ian Hannin with Sotocolor
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover Artists: Khari Evans, Barry Kitson, Trevor Hairsine, and Rian Hughes
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I really enjoy seeing heroes’ downtime. Seems like just about every issue of (especially team-books) a title “has to” have lots of action, so I quite appreciate just seeing the characters be themselves, NOT fighting villains, NOT on some huge quest, NOT repelling invasions or facing life-or-death situations, etc.

So this issue was quite up my alley, seeing the kids decompress from the events of Harbinger Wars. They recognized a functional loss, but escaped with their lives, and so take some time in this issue to just be kids, to have fun with each other and the advantages their powers bring. I could enjoy an entire issue of single-page scenes just showing the kinds of stuff the group as a whole would be up to as well as what happens when the characters pair off for activities, the way they relate not just as a group but in the one-on-one interactions.

I’m especially interested in seeing the growing friendship between Faith and Peter, and while I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever read the first few issues of the original ’90s series, that was a good 14 years ago and I don’t recall much of anything at this point…though from “meta” info about that title I’m vaguely aware of a character death early in the series that I’ve been glad to see did not happen here (I sorta expected it to play out in Harbinger Wars).

While we start the issue on a relatively “light” note (all recent events considered), and get plenty of fun and potential as the issue continues, I got a sense of foreboding toward the final few pages. Despite this, I had an honest moment of shock when my fear played out…the end of the issue opens up a whole different potential for this title and the Renegades moving forward.

More and more I find myself considering this the cream of the crop of the current Valiant titles…and with the mythology Dysart‘s building, the character-building and realistic (for a comic starring super-powered psiots) settings and interactions and amount of story actually fit into a single issue, there’s little better out there.

If you like super-hero team books, I definitely recommend this title!

Captain America: Reborn #6 [Review]

By: Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice
Colors: Paul Mounts
Leters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Designer: Rian Hughes
Covers: Hitch and Mounts; John Cassaday and Laura Martin; Joe Quesada, Danny Miki and Richard Isanove
Assoc. Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Editor: Tom Brevoort

Before I read a single page of this issue, I was impressed by a stark difference I’m entirely unused to. This issue–at least, for the version of the cover that I bought, keeping with the visual style of the covers I’ve chosen since issue #1–sports not only a wrap-around cover, but a gatefold as well. That is, we have a 3-“panel” cover that folds out to the width of 3 comic covers, as a single, large image. Meanwhile, the latest Justice League of America issue from DC features HALF of a two-panel image as each of two different editions of the same exact issue. I dislike variants, but have a much easier time tolerating them when each is at least its own complete image. And the “build-an-image” motif where covers connect to form a larger image is cool, so long as it is multiple different issues–whether consecutive issues of a series/mini-series, or of a crossover/story arc.

Picking up where the previous issue left off, this issue finds Steve Rogers in his Captain America uniform, his body in control of the Red Skull’s consciousness, ready to murder his old partner Bucky, now the current Captain America. Meanwhile, a number of friends/allies fight for not only the rescue of Steve but also of those who have become entwined with the Red Skull and his machinations. Steve battles for control of his body, and unsurprisingly (especially given the title of this series) Steve wins out, the Skull is dispatched, and Steve is left–stable and no longer being bounced throughout his own history–in the present, to deal with a world in which he’s been absent and missed the Secret Invasion and most of Osborne’s Dark Reign.

The art on this book is high quality stuff. While it’s not perfect or anything, It really brings a lot to the story, enhancing the story and never particularly distracting from the reading experience. There are a couple of “iconic” full-page shots that were a little distracting as a result (in a good way, though). Despite the distraction–of noting the enormity of the moments depicted–they were a couple of my favorite moments of the entire issue. One shows Steve and Bucky rushing into battle side-by-side…two Captain Americas existing side-by-side. The other is Steve leaping into the fray, shield raised, the sunlight glinting off it, as many of the characters realize that THEIR Captain America is back.

While I tend to enjoy Brubaker‘s writing, this issue seemed so anticlimactic as to lack any real enjoyment for me. The enjoyment I found was in the art, in those images mentioned above. It doesn’t help that there wasn’t much to “wonder” about in this series. The title itself gave away the ending: Captain America would be reborn…and as we’d pretty much JUST wrapped up an 18-month mega-arc introducing a NEW Captain America into things (Bucky’s transformation from enemy agent to Shield-bearer)…it was pretty darned obvious. This issue in particular was spoiled by the fact that its first “epilogue” shipped some 4-5 weeks ago. Why that couldn’t have simply been held is beyond me–but it gave us an issue of Steve obviously back, obviously no longer bouncing through time, obviously alive, and Bucky alive as well. All that was left was the exact, specific details as to how things would wrap up.

If you’ve been following the series so far, it’s worthwhile to snag this issue to wrap up and such. Otherwise, wait for the collected edition–which will HOPEFULLY contain not only this 6-issue mini, but BOTH epilogues: Who Will Wield the Shield? and Who Will Not Wield the Shield?

Story: 5/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 6.5/10

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