Quick Hits: Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 and more…

Love and Rockets: New Stories #3

Love and Rockets: New Stories #3: I think it’s safe to say that I won’t read a more haunting, thought-provoking or truly touching all year, or next year for that matter… or at least until the Hernandez Brothers put out issue #4. Love and Rockets returned to comic shelves two years ago, not as a monthly or bi-monthly series but as a yearly 100-page graphic novel sized “issue” with Jaime Hernandez providing 50 pages of story each year and brother Gilbert supplying the other 50. On one hand it’s certainly a joy to have 100 new pages of Love and Rockets to behold when it hits the shelves, on the other hand each issue is certain to leave you wanting more and 52 weeks is a helluva long time to wait for that fulfillment! Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 certainly raises the bar high in this already stellar—and long-running—series. Gilbert leads things off with an off-kilter sci-fi story set on a distant planet as a trio of scientists work on some sort of scientific experiment and interact with the local wildlife, including some pygmy-sized almost human “pinkies,” and more significantly, some man-sized cat-like creatures whose interactions provide the main crux of the story. Gilbert follows this up later with a bizarre stream of consciousness tale involving a young and well-endowed actress, whose tale ties back into the earlier sci-fi story in an almost David Lynch type fashion. Gilbert has a less refined artistic style than his brother Jaime, but it works well with stories as they often involve dreamlike narrations. As eerie as Gilberts two tales are it is brother Jaime who really steals the show as we delve back into the world of Hoppers and catch up with long-running character Maggie Chascarrillo—aka Maggie the Mechanic—and her sometimes boyfriend Ray Dominguez. This latest Hoppers—named for the fictional California town where most of Jaime’s stories are set—story is told in three parts; the main part focusing on Maggies as a budding teenager far from Hoppers living with her reunited parents, bookended by two tales of Maggie in Hoppers sharing a night out on the town at an art-opening with Ray. All three tales tie together and the focus is on the mysterious stranger who we see following Maggie early on. Jaime really provides a deeply haunting story of childhood without any of the nostalgia one might expect. His artwork is gorgeous in this latest issue, not a single-brush stroke is wasted as he has truly refined his style throughout the years. I can’t recommend this book—or the past collections of this series—highly enough. Visit your local comic shop right away, and if they don’t have it, go to the source at the Fantagraphics website. A+
Review by Spaceman Spiff

Chaos War #1: Wow, Khoi Pham really brings his A-game to this issue. I’ve always been a fan of his work on The Incredible Hercules and The Mighty Avengers, but his art here is head and shoulders above anything we’ve seen from him before. Whether it’s due to the collaboration of inker Tom Palmer or the colors by Sunny Gho, I don’t know but I hope he keeps it up as it will make the rest of this series very easy to keep picking up. Greg Pak and Fred Van Lentes provide a decent enough story as an over-powered Hercules returns to Earth to gather heroes for a threat of cosmic proportions. It’s good to see Hercules back and reunited with Amadeus Cho, but this first issue doesn’t really provide any punch but merely sets things up for the four issues—plus the obligatory spin-offs—to come. I’ll keep reading because I like Hercules and I like Pham’s artwork, but I really hope the next few issues pack in the surprises. As for all the spin-off issues that are coming? I’ll pass. Marvel also tacks on an unnecessary backstory to the end, probably in a move to justify the $3.99 price tag… nice try, but it’s totally missable. B-
Review by Spaceman Spiff

I, Zombie #6:  Chris Roberson and Mike Allred really have something special on their hands here. They’ve managed to launch a new Vertigo series that accomplishes the following things: 1) building a whole world and mythology in only five issues, 2) having an engaging, intricate plot, and 3) being pretty hilarious. Most Vertigo series would be doing well to knock out two of those. I, Zombie is always a joy to read; the major attraction is Mike Allred’s pencils, but Roberson is no slouch in the story department.  This particular issue takes a break from the main story to focus on Scott the Were-Terrier, and manages to give us not only a better understanding of that great character but of the I, Zombie world as a whole. This book is kind of a post-modern Twilight, except I want to read it. A
Review by Rebel Rikki

S.H.I.E.L.D. #4: It’s pretty much impossible to make heads or tails of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s story as we have it so far, but here’s what I do know: John Hickman is writing. The art, by Dustin Weaver, is solid. The story somehow mixes important classical thinkers (Galileo, Da Vinci, Newton, even Nostradamus) with the Marvel Universe (Howard Stark) and Jack Kirby creations (Galactus, the Celestials). Christina Strain colors and man, is she good. Oh S.H.I.E.L.D., you had me at “Celestials.” I eagerly await the end of the first story arc so I can read it all in one sitting and discern a cohesive plot, but for now the “let’s throw in a bunch of cool crap and be mysterious” angle is totally working for me. A-
Review by Rebel Rikki

Sweet Tooth #14: Jeff Lemire draws like no one else in the business (certainly not in mainstream comics), and his writing’s not bad either. This series, set in a post-apocalyptic future, follows the tribulations of a young human/animal hybrid named Gus and his sometimes-captor/sometimes-savior Jepperd. It’s an interesting book, very good though plagued with some pacing issues (Lemire often does not like to put a lot of panels on any page, leading to some issues seemingly flying by without much story development). I do wonder how long a book like this can last; I can’t honestly say I’d read it if it had any other creator. This issue, in which Gus tries to escape from a government testing facility, has some nice action and a couple of brilliant spreads from Lemire, and is creepy as all get-out. Sometimes it feels like something’s missing from this book, but maybe that’s just me. B+
Review by Rebel Rikki

Transformers: Drift #3: A marked improvement over last issue’s surprisingly poor flashback tale, this installment of Drift finds our title character trying to convince a hidden outpost of Cybertronian scholars, scientists, and academics to go to war to defend their home. It’s a plot that’s been done before, but not, my mind, in Transformers, at least not at this level. This issue is mostly talking but I like that — again, Transformers fiction has typically shied away from having these giant war-making robots just talk to each other, and it’s interesting to see them debate philosophical points, because it shows that there is a deep and fulfilling world that writers working in this universe can explore. The art by Alex Milne is top-notch as always. The lackluster first couple of issues brings down the grade a bit, because I don’t like where this series has come from; still, I suspect I may enjoy where it goes. B+
Review by Rebel Rikki

Wolverine #2: This issue is a nice change of pace for this new series from the first issue in that it actually features Logan! We still spend some time with the possessed, soulless body of Wolverine as it hunts down those closest to Logan, whose soul we follow in this issue fighting its way through the pissed-off hordes of those he has killed throughout the years. I’m still not sure why this series had to reboot from Wolverine: Weapon X other than #1 issues sell more, but artist Renato Guedes provides a nice touch with the artwork. There’s a few cool moments in this issue involving one of Logan’s past loves but I’m not really sold on the “Wolverine Goes to Hell” storyline quite yet. C+
Review by Spaceman Spiff

tags: chaos war, hernandez brothers, i zombie, love and rockets, mike allred, s.h.i.e.l.d., sweet tooth, transformers, wolverine

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