Wednesday Adventures- 26th April

review

 

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“The superhero is the kind of last, small, broken ideal of what we might all become one day if we just get it together and stop being assholes”- Grant Morrison

Doom Patrol 6- DC Comics

Fantabulous first arc complete! DC’s most obtuse and outlandish band of superhero misfits continues to be the perfect place for Way’s seemingly endless stream of delirious ideas and deranged pop punk poetry dialogue. As ambulance driver Casey brink comes to terms with her origin, the team finally reunites against the Vectra to defend Danny Le Street from becoming intergalactic street food

A dadist infused, psychedelic romp that serves as both a love letter to the Doom Patrol’s legacy and the enduring power of super heroes and comics, Way and Derrington have found the perfect midway point between the outlandish and perplexing antics the roster of strange characters have to offer and the good bright fistpumpimg super-heroics in the strongest and strangest title from the Young Animals imprint so far.

 

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Infamous Iron Man 7- Marvel Comics

Despite my criticism of the first few slow paced issues, Bendis and Maleev’s re-introduction of Victor Von Doom and his newly aligned moral compass is the one title I quietly look forward to each month with it’s perfect inversion of superhero characters, motivations and interactions as it skewers the rivalry against Marvels first family, eventually pitting the new found hero against The Maker.

Seeking redemption for a life of tyranny and the combined might of the villain community and SHEILD pursuing him, Doom finds the hardest thing to escape are his own reputation and actions. The idea of an inverted Victor was around in Axis and here Bendis writes that concept in widescreen, big and bold in it’s action set pieces whilst at the same time small and intimate when exploring it’s troubled protagonist.  The slow pace that bothered me at first actually gives the story breathing room letting Bendis pull off a more poignant and complex examination of the once power mad Doom. For all it’s cinematic superhero action, at it’s core the Infamous Iron Man is revealing itself to be a fascinating study of a man at war, with himself

“To be a fire when I feel like ice”- Cecil Castellucci delves deeper into madness and isolation with Shade the Changing Girl

comic, review

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School is Hell. School is madness, even for the displaced avian Lomo currently inhabiting Earth girl Megan as she returns to Amelia Bloomer High School, much to the confusion of her fellow students. Insisting on being called shade in her new amalgamation of body and personality. Her peers are obviously wary of her, assuming her strange and oddly calm behaviour is a result of her accident and resulting comca as she struggles to make sense of her place in the social strata of the school, her relationships with other students and even lunchtime.

Series writer Cecil Castellucci is crafting a strangely off kilter look at this world through the eyes of her uniquely alien, avian creation Loma. Far more advanced and intelligent then the primitive world around her she none the less has to work to make sense of her strange new home and the people around her already questioning her act of rebellion in stealing the M-vest. Thrown into school Loma has a lot more interactions this issue as we start to learn more and more about Megan’s life. Faced with the tense and confused reactions of Megan’s former friends, unaware the majority wanted her dead. While initially indifferent to those around Loma is still left with the creeping uneasy sense that she’s logged herself firmly into a human with a very complicated and prickly past than she might have first thought. So far there is no sign of the previous occupant, Megan, beyond her memories but it’s such a tantalising layer to add to an already out there story,  I have a hard time believing that Castellucci won’t bring some of this into the mix during her run.

Being no stranger to writing teens in her long career as a novelist or indeed the criminally overlooked Plain Janes for DC’s last teen oriented imprint, Minx back in 2008, She has an amazing grasp on writing what feels like authentic teens dialogue and speech patterns without ever slipping into groan worthy cliche or dropping in social media mentions and in fact seems to be actively avoiding this particular pitfall with Shade. The comic slips between this tone and Loma’s more poetic inner monologue beautifully. Ultimately I was left with the feeling that even if the alien elements were stripped out, this series is strong enough already that it would still work wonderfully as a story of identity, change and dealing with the preconceptions others bring into that equation. Working as it’s own unique story even for those like myself who might be coming to the book with only general idea of Shade’s long and esoteric character history.

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Matching this with some sensational art  from Marley Zarcone further sets this apart from the rest of the comics crowd, Imbuing the comic from start to finish with it’s own loose flow and momentum as the story drifts almost lazily and fluidly from one moment to the next. A page featuring Megan getting ready for school shows this in a single panel showing her movement from the room and time, fain versions of herself around the room almost like echos which emphasises the books dreamlike qualities and elements of madness. Despite the book’s solicitation saying “No one can have a little bit of madness” the visuals are toned down this issue letting the book breath a  little after the stunning visual spectacle of it’s debut issue. Subtle and effective when they are used, a small poster here, the madness takes over small parts of her surroundings almost seeping through into the panels.

“I have to study up. Do my homework to really live this life” Shade promises herself setting out her plan for the future as this issue itself does,  expanding on last issue this one treats us to just a little more of Megan’s life, a world that Castellucci makes you eager to explore and learn more about as Loma sets about discovering too. Gorgeous art and sharp writing sets this as perfect allegory for being an uneasy teen and a story of identity put through a psychedelic, kaleidoscope filter.

 

“Panic in Detroit Baybah!” Zac Gorman and Will Robson reassemble the Great Lakes Avengers

comic, review

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Calling the Great Lakes Avengers Z-list heroes would be an insult to other hardworking Z-listers. Indeed, an insult to the very concept of lists itself. Unless it’s a “most obscure Marvel characters of all time list”, which like most people is where my knowledge of this quirky little group of lovable underdogs both starts and ends.

Created by John Bryne, and subsequently deemed unfit to even be a part of the Avengers “brand” due mostly to the combination of crap powers and weird personalities, the team has always been a tongue in cheek, off kilter look at the world of well intentioned, yet hilariously inept superheroes. With the run of success from books with more humorous bent, such as former member Squirrel Girl it’s perhaps not surprising that Rick and Morty comics scribe Zac Gorman has brought the team back.

Thrown back together through a legal loophole and perhaps the most ridiculous fall out from the still ongoing second Civil War, the majority of the book revolves around getting the four team members; Flatman, Big Bertha, and Doorman back together. Eventually moving the team out to new digs in Detroit. Beyond that Great Lakes Avengers’ debut issue stubbornly refuses to offer up any solid hook for readers or indication of it’s direction beyond bored genius Flatman wanting to get the team back together to relive the good old days. For a first issue featuring a team with such an interesting history, the plot feels strangely low key.

Gorman does a great job re-introducing these characters and portraying their varied personalities and powers, but it’s just somehow never quite as funny as you’d expect it to be. It has a few solid moments early on with some perfect comedy pacing, with so much of the remaining humour feeling forced or flat. The funniest parts of the book centering around the group’s well meaning leader and his predictably squalid home as well as a great moment involving an ex-member’s recent rise to the big time. Overall it just doesn’t quite have the effortless delivery or laugh out loud moments that elevate the likes of North’s Squirrel Girl or Zdarksky’s Howard The Duck just yet.

Robson’s cartoonish, exaggerated artwork is what sets this book apart right now, ringing every bit of physical humour from the outlandish cast with his gorgeously over the top facial expressions and character design, each with their own distinct look and feel. He gives a strong sense of movement and action throughout, which helps in an issue with a lot of dialogue heavy set up, and callbacks to the characters past exploits. The introduction of new character “Good Boy”, a huge blue werewolf, is when the writing and artwork finally come together for one of the issues funniest moments. Although not the strongest first issue of any of the recent humour focused Marvel books, overall it’s still has a solid enough base to build upon in future issues, and hopefully establish more clearly what Gorman has in store for these misfit heroes in the months to come.

‘For the usual fee–plus expenses’- Bendis and Gaydos are back with new Jessica Jones series

comic, Comic spotlight, review, Uncategorized

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“Everybody feels beleaguered at some point, That’s the universal truth of punk, that you are going to feel, in whatever role you’re living, that everybody is against you”

– John Darnielle

Say what you like, Jessica Jones is a character who is at her most compelling when beleaguered, set upon and troubled. Alias reveled in seeing her overcome great odds and her own actions and although her appearances since her own title had her finding some semblance of peace and happiness it’s clear that on returning and picking up her story after over a decade away, Bendis isn’t interested in a happy Jessica either. With original artist Gaydos back on board as well we find our reluctant heroine, with a few tweaks here and there, pretty much back where they left her all those years. This issue finds her fresh out of prison and stubbornly dodging questions about the mysteries mounting up in her own life, her marriage, her incarceration and most importantly what, if anything has happened to her daughter, Danielle.

Barely skipping a beat, Bendis drops us back into her world weary frame of mind as if we were picking up the story from last month, never mind over ten years ago. His characters voices are all distinct and sharp, never more so than when they are giving a knowing wink to the changes in the Marvel landscape since Alias wrapped up. Although it’s comforting to once again to hear Jones’ jaded inner monologue, this time we can most definitely see where it might trip her up. Over the years she’s tussled with superheroes and seen incredible things, but when her new client mentions her husband’s unusual behaviour and outlandish claims of having lived another life, started “eight months ago”, dismissing the obvious answer and leaving us on the edge of our seats as Bendis teases us with a mystery of a character who is either on the con, or an unwitting casualty caught up on the wrong end of Hickman’s recent cosmic reshuffling. Reminded in part of the classic Astro Cities storyline, “The Nearness Of You”, with average citizens caught up in universe altering events they can scarcely comprehend, let alone react against, it sets up one of the books many, many mysteries.

Gaydos’ art for the first issue is as despondent and melancholy as it ever was. His tired and worn out characters set against his un-superheroic, washed out New York City managing to feel both fresh and familiar, emphasising just how unusual his style and tone is to comics even on the second time around. It’s thrilling to see the recently formed Champions striding through New York in Gaydos’ gorgeously grimey and downbeat style as Jessica sits on, suitably nonchalant at the public posturing and heroic antics around her.

“Is she a big deal or not?” asks a prison guard early on in the book, with some firmly tongue in cheek Bendis dialogue, daring the reader to answer. While the more cynical might point out his earlier remarks on having written everything he wanted with Jessica, or the success of this years Netflix show for his  sudden return to the world of Alias Investigations. Let’s face it comics are based on “never say never” and this issue seems almost genuinely reluctant to trade on the success of the TV show or even show off about getting the band back together, so to speak, lest the book stray too far from it’s scrappy underdog roots and with a subtle first issue might have just pulled it off. While some might be put off by Bendis’ deliberately slow pacing or knocking Jessica down once more for the sake of restoring her status quo somewhat,  the first issue sets up some intriguing conflicts and mysteries, all with the chance of her coming back stronger than ever.

 

Ragnarock the Vote in Marvel’s Vote Loki

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“America. If I was your president I’d have the guts to lie right to your face..and you’d love it!”

In between the twitter fights, promises of wall building and genuinely terrifying calls for the other nominee to be hacked, or shot, whichever, that the actual US Election is still a month away. One. Whole. Month. Easy to see then why we now have writer Christopher Hastings and artist Langdon Foss boldly striding into the oddly familiar political landscape of the Marvel Universe with the satirical, Vote Loki. Like Howard the Duck in ’76, the trickster god throws his horned helmet into the ring ,announcing his intentions to run for leader of the free world.

With the real run up to the elections fresh in everyone’s mind you might think setting a showy, media friendly , rabble rousing Loki right in the centre of things was a bit on the nose, then you’d be right. Broad swipes at the current political climate, general mistrust of politicians and the distracting circus surrounding it all run through the entire series. However for a while this works in it’s favour drawing the obvious parallels between the two and the ridiculousness of both and for a while manages to explore new elements of what at first seems like a simple one joke satire. Part of this is that despite his good looks and sharp tongue, Hastings and Foss have made the former agent of Asgard into a secondary player in his own book. Told from Nisa’s point of view it definitely helps the story seeing it through her eyes in much the same way that Marvels gave us a glimpse of the dawn of the greatest heroes from a street level. Ultimately though it feels as if Nisa isn’t given that much development and even her speech in the rushed final issue can’t help shake the feeling that Nisa didn’t get a lot of agency and like the main story, hers just doesn’t really go anywhere interesting.

Even having a few other Marvel titles to his name it was still surprising to see Langdon Foss, whose art was part of what made his collaboration on Ales Kot’s The Surface so new and exciting. Even with the vastly different styles across their line, Vote Loki still feels like an outlier  with it’s very strong indie-creator owned feel. Foss has a unique and style and texture to his work both in terms of characters and settings that feels perfectly suited thematically for a topical, street level title like this. As with “The Surface” and it’s highly detailed and precisely inked surreal landscapes, his work is elevated when drawing the fantastical. Here it’s when the Asgardian’s showboating leads to him using his powers, floating in heroically in issue one surrounded by glowing Nordic knot work. Even when delivering a speech from his podium, Foss’ Loki has a huge and attention grabbing presence. However like the series itself it starts to get very repetitive with the same few locations and the art definitely slips towards the end of the series, with issue four looking noticeably rushed and a little lacklustre.

Vote Loki was a title I really wanted to like, especially considering the team involved, but despite a strong start in the first two issues it really burns through that initial goodwill when the third issue spins it’s wheels telling a story it had already pulled off so well in the previous issue. Once again Nisa brings evidence against Loki, which he spins through the media machine to his own advantage. Given it’s oddly rushed finale that jumps closer and closer to the election every few pages, it’s a shame it squandered the chance to let the story breathe a little or maybe a few more issues to properly flesh out it’s ideas. A fun premise that is let down by a boring repetitive plot, uneven artwork that like Loki’s campaign never really delivers on it’s initial excitement.

Vote Loki is available Wednesday 5th October and collects Vote Loki 1-4 and material from Journey Into Mystery 85 and Avengers 300 (1963)

The Pull List 27/01/2016

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Island #6 (Image Comics) – Even with the ever so slightly reduced page count, you can still count on Island to be the greatest anthology out there in terms of casting its net far and wide to bring attention to new and unheard of comics talent on a monthly basis. The highlight this month is the story “Badge of Pride” featuring a group of young anthropomorphic guys as they navigate the social minefield of their local Pride event. Having followed his work on and off for years now it’s thrilling to see Onta’s work shown to a more mainstream audience and I was fortunate enough that he had time to answer a few of my questions last week about his new, more personal and story driven outing for Island.

This month also presents work from Gael B as well as a recoloured, reprinted sci-fi classic in the form of Fil Barlow’s Zooniverse.

Saga #33 (Image Comics) – Thirty Three issues in and Vaughan and Staples sci-fi epic shows no signs of slowing down as it continues to shock, thrill and delight in equal measures. Staples beautiful cover shows that the adorable journalistic couple Upsher and Doff are back after being warned off reporting on the story of Marko and Alana way back in the books second arc. While only briefly touched upon I look forward to seeing how Vaughan develops the relationship between the pair as they become embroiled deeper in conflict and conspiracy. It’s been briefly hinted that the pairs society doesn’t look kindly on same sex couples and it will be fascinating to see what the writer has to say on the subject in a series that really pulls no punches with its social commentary.

“Our World” Touching and heartfelt story from Zdarsky and Fish

anthro, anthropomorphic, review, Uncategorized

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last issues surprising finale saw the unexpected arrival gender swapped counterparts of both Howard and his one-time cell mate Rocket Raccoon, this along with the success of other gender swapping titles such as the hugely popular Spider-Gwen made had me expecting writer Chip Zdarsky to take a few well intentioned and light hearted jabs at this popular but not unwelcome recent trend in Marvel comics. Instead he continues to constantly surprise, this month crafting the most heartfelt, touching and utterly captivating issue of his Howard the Duck run so far. Instead of the titular fowl, Zdarksy instead centres the action on his new creations Shocket and Linda and delves into the pair’s back story.

This being a Howard-less issue is perfectly conveyed by regular collaboratorJoe Quinones beautiful cover, and with the artist on a break this month art duties fall to Veronica Fish who will also be lending her considerable talents for two issues of Robbie Thompson’s Silk in February. Coming in at a point in the story with new characters and a flashback in makes perfect sense and feels like a natural move to include a guest artist and her cartoony style is a lovely fit for both the characters and the story. Bold and expressive she draws an achingly cute Shocket and Linda in all their short, adorable glory and small moments like Shocket reassuring her sister, muzzle full of corn on the cob make for some amazingly cute and emotional moments. Just when the pages start to seem too regimented and strict in their panel layout, some subtle tricks and touches such as skipping twenty-five years over three panels and literally breaking the borders of the panels shake things up. Although next month marks the return of Quinones, I hope it doesn’t mean the last we will see of Fish on Marvel titles in the future.HOWARD2015B002-int3-3-d8bf5HOWARD2015B002-int3-4-05089Steeped in Marvel lore and featuring clones and time travel this is pure comics. Inventive, silly and funny but with a real heart and emotional pull, in equal parts from Zdarksy’s writing and his new created characters. Introduced last issues for a brief single page shock ending, Linda and Shocket are a big reason that this book is so wonderful. The pair’s entire back story is told in this single issue and yet it never seems rushed or cluttered, despite the number of things thrown into the mix. Taking time to define them as unique characters in their own right he develops the sister’s personalities and fleshes them out beyond their seemingly simple gender bent origins, emphasizing both the similarities and differences to their male counterparts. A lot of the issues sweetest moments are to be found in the girl’s unusual but loving family unit with initially reluctant father Dee, who quickly falls for the strange duo. I found myself completely invested over the course of a handful of pages and was left looking forward to seeing their interactions with Howard and Tara next issue. As a writer Zdarsky has become more ambitious in his storytelling and writing. Later in the story, on meeting a younger, angrier Silver Surfer Dee calms the Herald with an impassioned and honest speech about his future, some of the best he has ever written not to mention the issues heart-breaking conclusion.

Between them Fish and Zdarksy have put together an amazing and sweetly touching issue filled with perfect character moments. Howard the Duck continues to be a series I am completely in love with. Both funny and smart, Howard and companies adventures continue to consistently strike the perfect balance between humour and heart.

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Review: Rumble 6

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“A warrior does not kill because it is his wish but because he must. If it becomes easy for you, you become a killer”

The unsung gem of 2015 is without a doubt Arcudi, Harren and Stewart’s Rumble. Straight away you can see why it might have been somewhat overlooked. Combining slow paced world building and a unique mythos with kinetic no holds barred action set pieces. It’s hard to pigeon-hole and a strange beast even among Image’s plethora of other sci-fi and fantasy titles.

For those not up to speed issue six serves as a great way to get quickly caught up as it sets about recapping the action packed events of the previous five issues of the series while still giving established readers enough development and insights into its characters to feel satisfied and make it a worthwhile read. From the image of the scarecrow bodied Rathraq calmly crouched on the impression is one of a much more subtle and subdued affair. Cleverly written as both recap and set-up for future issues we find the Rumble cast in a rare moment of rest and reflection that can only be the calm before an even more insane second arc from the book’s creative team.

As bar worker Bobby finds himself conflicted by his actions in the last issue, mythical warrior Rathraq recounts a tale from his past as both ruminate on the necessity of violence. It’s impact upon a person is mirrored between the two, one a seasoned warrior and one new to combat. So far Rumble has worked at it’s own pace, taking it’s own damn time in explaining any back story and letting the mystery unfold. This issue uses this to great effect, telling a small story for big impact. The slower pacing allows writer John Arcudi  to explore their protagonists in more depth, showing the complexity of their thoughts and pasts crafting some heartfelt character moments. There is a lot more to bad ass hero, bumbling every man and his sidekick that we will hopefully see developed in this second arc.

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For a series characterised by its explosive and ferocious fights, this issue is by no means a lull in the action though. Rathraq’s story of a past battle is as energetic and furious as anything we’ve come to expect from Rumble, but it’s the tone that is different this time around showing that he derives no pleasure from causing death and unrest with his actions. Harren is an amazing talent and his pacing of the panels in the book and this issue in particular is astonishing, an artist that clearly understands that constant action can be tiring, he uses the stories slower moment to his advantage. When the action hits, it hits hard. His art is visceral and dynamic and strewn with details creating a rich world from of grit, dirt and even moments of beauty.

Continuing to combine high adrenaline action and character development Rumble is another instalment of what is shaping up to be one of the most idiosyncratic and interesting series of the year.

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Review: Howard the Duck Volume 0: What the Duck?

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It’s amazing what a post credits scene and the right creative team can accomplish for even the most ridiculed and belittled comics characters. Once an iconic and important character in Marvel’s history all it took was one truly awful movie, widespread misconceptions and fierce disagreements between the company and creator Steve Gerber to overshadow the work on his wildly inventive, silly and hysterical five year stint with the melancholy mallard. Until December at least Howard now stands as one of the most rehabilitated properties connected with Lucasfilm. When the new series was announced it felt more an inevitability than a shock. Howard back in his own title again? Obviously! Zdarsky as writer? Well of course! Why did it take this long to set up? However beyond the novelty and initial laughs to be had at one of comics more eccentric ‘new’ talents working on a character reduced to an industry joke, Howard the Duck is already a whip smart book with genuine warmth and real humour.

Throughout the original Gerber run and beyond Howard the Duck has always been a comic that thrived on it’s cameos, with Spider-Man swinging in as early as the ducks second issue. On other titles this reliance on other more well known characters might be considered a weakness but here it works as a strength. Luckily it’s one of the many aspects continued in the new series and a clever choice by Zdarsky. He clearly has a deep knowledge of the source material and of a love of all things marvel. Especially it’s strange and silly corners. Chips irreverent humour and fond jabs at it’s weird history is evident on every page as he takes us on a mirthful, magical mystery tour of the Marvel Universe. Already in the first arc contained in this volume the far reaching reference include Morrison and Millar’s mid nineties creations the Skrull Kill Krew (Marvel Edge? Anyone?), Aunt May marrying villains and Reed Richards propensity (seriously once is sketchy. Twice is…worrying) for turning hostile alien invaders into cows.

In five issues Doctor Strange, The Fantastic Four, She Hulk and the much missed legal team all make it onto the pages with Howard, now self employed as one of Marvel’s many private eyes, surely the career b-plan for their stable of characters. It’s a tactic currently being employed by the team on Groot’s solo book to great effect and gives both comics a greater depth and scope as well as a distinct place and impact over the rest of the Marvel Universe. If comics cohort and fellow brimper Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye was “what he does when he’s not being an Avenger” than Howard’s wide circle of friends definitely gives Zdarsky the chance to showcase a lot of other heroes on less than noble and productive days.

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Oh, and fun. Lets not forgot cameos are fun! Everyone likes to see their favourites show up, and Zdarksy likes them too. Like Gerber he has your friendly neighbourhood Spider-man show up pretty early on, even if it is only to poke fun at the webhead. Here, tongue firmly in cheek he comically reduces the wallcrawler down to the essential and most easily recognisable character traits for comic effect. Playing up his basic concept to absurd and hilarious levels makes for some of the books most noteable laugh out loud moments. With strong hints that Aunt May might be a supporting character when the book returns later this year (please, please be true!) we could see Parker as Chip’s whipping boy for the foreseeable future. The only minor misstep in my mind is the appearance of Guardians of the Galaxy. While it’s a downright funny issue it’s the only one that feels slightly forced, perhaps owing to these also once fringe characters now being hot properties. Again the issue is uproarious and farcical with witty repartee between Howard and a certain racoon, but as a second issue is does rather derail the pacing and the development of the new partnership with Howard and the books other lead, Tara Tam.

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Quinones playful and energetic artwork (expertly inked by Rivera) along with his strong and innovative panel composition also makes Howard the Duck one of the most unique and striking books on offer right now. While a world away from Gerber’s look, Quinones style feels like an appropriately fresh and modern take on the cantankerous canard. Every characters is wonderfully detailed and sharp, and his comical and varied facial expressions make for some of the best moment in the book while Rico Renzi’s coloring gives the book a bright and bold feel, his bright hues perfectly complimenting the already dynamic artwork. Perfect for a book filled with bright spandex clad heroes. Not forgetting of course, Jason Latour who lends a hand for some of the volumes shorts. A more scrappy and sketchy style that lends itself well to the short, ridiculous backups.

Zdarksy and Quinones definitely share a vision for this comic and  have crafted a fitting reintroduction for Howard back onto the comic book shelves. Even with a handful of guest appearances over the years and a Marvel Max series, this feels like the natural extension of the ducks original outing and is already up there with the likes of other comedy driven titles like Squirrel Girl and the Superior Foes of Spiderman.

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Review: From Well-Liked Comedy Character To Star In The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8

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She has always been a character referred to by both readers and creators alike with a warm fondness, yet with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, both Erica Henderson and Ryan North have fleshed out Doreen Green, aka Squirrel Girl into a more complex and rounded character beyond the knowing jokes and geek trivia lists. This issue rounds of the first arc and last issue of the surprise hit of the year before she returns in October with a new number one and juggling the responsibilities of college and her position on the New Avengers team. She goes from well-liked comedy character to star of two books in only eight issues.

Norse menace Ratatoskr’s plans finally come to fruition as she continues to turn people against each other using their own insecurities and mistrust. Our heroine and her friends race to put a stop to her smack talk and save the world. Throughout its first seven issues the series has always had an emphasis on nonviolent conflict resolution, which might sound counterintuitive for a superhero book, but North makes it work. Leading Squirrel Girl and company to seek out more creative methods for dealing with her would-be foes makes for a far more interesting read. It’s the perfect series for anyone seeking non-stop action and adventure without the dull repetitiveness of the bif-pow superhero slugfests. Oh sure, Squirrel Girl isn’t afraid to throwdown with the best of them when push comes to shove. Even when shove comes to out and out brawling, but in true Marvel fashion she’s currently slugged more of her fellow heroes than she has villains. This issue is no exception. With New York under the threat of destruction yet again, Doreen and her team set about finding ways to defeat an enemy who can turn the strength of the Earth’s heroes against them.

A comic can live or die by its supporting cast, or lack thereof and North and Henderson know this adding some of the most interesting creative and flat out funny additions to the 616 in years. Koi Boi and Chipmunk Hunk are hilarious and great new characters but it’s the no-nonsense Nancy Whitehead, who finds herself Doreen’s roommate, who is the particular standout. With Earth’s mightiest heroes having succumb to Rataskrs poisonous whisperings she takes center stage helping out the Asgardian heroes, once again using brains not brawn. The moment when she cuts through the overly complicated superhero dramatics to point out the single, simplest solution is one to behold. Even Tippytoe gets development. After sulking on Nancy’s shoulder throughout the conflict she makes the the ragtag team of animal themed superheroes that they need to make more of an effort to include her and communicate. She also offers great physical comedy in a book already packed with panel upon panel worth of humour.

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North continues to be as inventive as ever with his writing employing the kind of tricks and touches that wouldn’t look out of place in his equally loved run on Adventure Time. His use of seemingly offhand throwaway jokes returns in this issue as Nancy’s headcanon, fanfiction creation Cat Thor comes to life with the aid of Asgardian’s resident trickster god in some of the funniest moments this issue. I’m sure a cosplay of an in comic cosplay that will surely end the world as we know it must only be a few days away at most. It’s an overwhelmingly positive book that North and Henderson have created and truly what comics should be about. Writing Squirrel Girl as an defiantly upbeat character who sees the very best in people, even villains, is a welcome change from the norm and her rousing speech towards the end of the conflict with Ratatoskr is most definitely one of the best examples of the positive power of comics.

Henderson’s art is on top form again, this time around getting to draw a few more heroes including her brilliant renditions of Thor, Odinson and Spider-Man. I’d urge North to write bigger and bolder team up issues in the future if only to see Henderson tackle all the Marvel Universe’s myriad numbers of characters on the page in her own playful and distinctive style. At the very least can we petition Marvel to enact a company wide initiative, like Jim Lee’s redesigns at DC, only with Henderson revamping the whole universes street wear? Seriously, off action superheroes and their friends have never looked so fashionable. In early issues her artwork focused mainly on the characters, some panels left with just solid coloured backgrounds.

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While this worked give the book a fresh and bold feel to it, this time around she draws drawing some of her most complex pages so far including a stunning Asgard resplendent in it’s mix of futuristic cityscape and Norse flourishes. Let’s not forget the character design for new adversary Ratatoskr. Angular and menacing she has been a great villain and a seamless way to link The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Thors together. Coincidentally, Ratatoskr’s Wiki page has already been updated as predicted in the issue, but unfortunately not to inform us of what a big baby she is.

An amazing finish to the first arc of Squirrel Girl’s adventures, Marvel’s decision to keep the same creative team in the wake of its company wide shake up means we will get to see more rodentine stories when she returns in October in both this title and taking on a bigger role in the going on the newly reformed Marvel Universe.