Sun Bakery #1

Sun Bakery #1

This is an interesting comic to say the least. When I grabbed this guy, I had absolutely no idea what it was, what it was was about, or anything about the creative team. However, the cover was awesome and it immediately gave off Scott Pilgrim vibes, which is one of my personal favorite comics of all time. Upon my first read, I was extremely confused, the story seemed to be jumping around, characters were undeveloped and world building was too quick and unexpected. I was, honestly, extremely disappointed by the comic simply because I was so thrown off by its contents. However, I really wanted to give this comic a revisit and thus a second opinion.

What I first learned by simply looking at the cover a little more, was that Sun Baker is a comic book anthology magazine. Essentially what this means is that they usually use different artists and different writers to make short, very quick stories within one issue. This explained the inconsistencies I found my first time through, and almost completely eradicated my confusion. This allowed me to take in each story (there’s only 2 / 3 in this one) as its own entity and appreciate them on an individual level. I also just spent more time with this comic in general the second time around, giving it an actual thoughtful read, and honestly, after the second time through, I liked this comic so much more. In fact, I loved this comic the second time. It’s extremely quirky and fun, in many similar ways that Scott Pilgrim was. The stories they introduce are simple, but insanely fun and if they revisit those worlds I’m all in. There’s no real character development here, but it’s not really needed to fit into the ‘anthology feel’.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this comic. If you liked the vibes of Scott Pilgrim, or if you just like that indie vibe at all, sit down and read Sun Bakery, it has the workings of something really special for that kind of audience. If you’re not so sure, or you don’t like that Scott Pilgrim-esque, silly and over the top indie feel, then Sun Bakery might not be for you. It’s definitely a unique comic with awesome and funny art, some great dialogue, and the workings of some really cool action adventure stories with a couple sweet female protagonists. At the very least, give Sun Bakery a shot, you may just find a new favorite out of this one.

 

(4 / 5)

X-Men Black: Magneto

X-Men Black: Magneto

As far as I’m aware the X-Men comic franchise as of late has been doing alright for itself. It’s separation of its vast array of mutant characters into color-coded teams and styles has been pretty interesting, and for now, a fresh take on the X-Men and its many villains as a whole. With a giant mix up of the timelines the personalities and tendencies of every well known X-Men character has been kind of up in the air. I suppose the benefits of having a really convoluted and overblown history that Marvel is constantly expected to keep intact while doing new things is that anything goes, and if it doesn’t work, you just try something different. Magneto has been all over the place in terms of story for the past many years. Before the apparent disappearance of X-Men from the Marvel comic lineups Magneto had a very decisive solo comic book series, but since then he’s been M.I.A.. Now with X-Men Black, Magneto makes a welcomed return to the comic book world, though sadly, only in a single issue for now. As a character that succeeds most in a very anti-hero setting, I’m curious and hopeful that they bring this character back in the best way possible. But with the range of quality that the X-Men comics have been across their many new stories, I’m ever skeptical.

In the light of the political turmoil of today’s world, X-Men is a welcomed take and spin on the issues of immigration and nationalism. The idea of Mutants as unwelcomed foreign entities has been an in-world political issue for as long as X-Men has been around and works just as well today as it did when it first appeared. Magneto is a champion of the Mutants, a believer in not only their right to belong but often a believer in their superiority over non-mutants. These sometimes radical beliefs has put him at odds with the X-Men over the years, always advocates for peace between the Mutants and Non-Mutants. Fuel has only added to the fire however, as the constant struggle for the X-Men’s peace is met with a non-mutant hate for all mutant kind. With a bunch of mutant children being kept prisoners by the government, Magneto sees no reason not to utilize his unstoppable power to destroy the prison and break the mutants out. He quickly realizes however, upon easily defeating the guards and destroying the prison’s thick walls that perhaps the kids don’t want what Magneto has to offer them. Violence beyond reason isn’t what these young Mutants want. As they explain to the X-Men villain, maybe there’s more to earning respect than fear.

This comic does an admirable job of modernizing the Mutant-Problem that Magneto’s character is so often built around. X-Men’s issues with acceptance has always been a political statement, as comics often are. There are obvious under and overtones of the current political climate in here, and I think despite the comic book world’s liberal leanings, it does a good job of showing every side of the issue. X-Men does a great job of blurring lines. Magneto believes in the freedom for all Mutants, but at any cost. He’ll gladly kill any non-mutant that gets in his way for the betterment of his race. Meanwhile the X-Men want to live peacefully among the non-mutants, but they fear those with powers, and suppress them for it. It’s a never ending battle, and I think this Magneto comic book does well capturing that endless cycle. Magneto is an awesome character, and they seem to be writing him as fans of his classic style. I’m on board with anything for the future of this character.       

(4.5 / 5)

Chew

Chew

Chew: Making Cannibalism Fun!

 

Chew is a long-running comic series, with its first issue released in 2009 and its final trade volume coming out earlier this year. It centers on Tony Chu, an agent for the FDA, which has become the most powerful agency in the U.S. government following an avian flu epidemic that created a death toll in the tens of millions and led to a complete ban on chicken. Tony is a cibopath, meaning he learns the history of anything he eats, a power that can be troublesome eating normal food–so, of course, his job involves taking bites out of murder victims. At the very beginning of the story, his partner, John Colby, takes a meat cleaver to the head that was aimed at Tony; Colby doesn’t just live, he comes back with half a face turned cybernetic.

 

It only gets weirder.

 

Chew is a prime example of where indie comics excel. It has a storyline with a designed ending point, and characters that aren’t going to be reborn in a whole new universe because the writers at Image can’t come up with any new ideas (although crossovers are still a thing). They can take chances on weirdness because if they overstep somewhere, no one’s hovering over their shoulders screaming, “YOU BORKED SUPERMAN!!!” Blended with a heavy dose of rock-solid comedic timing, Chew ends up being tremendously entertaining.

 

There are a couple of things that may end up bothering some people. One is that the most noteworthy deaths are of women. The female characters are pretty much all great when they’re alive, which balances this out somewhat, but there’s a bit of a ‘women in refrigerators’ aspect when they die in the same world that takes men with fatal injuries and Bionic Man’s them instead of letting them go too.

 

In addition, some people are going to be aggravated by Miso Honey, Tony’s sibling. ‘Miso Honey’ is introduced as the stage name of Tony’s brother Harold. Alright, so Harold is a drag queen? Sure, that works. Except Harold’s gender is brought into question with descriptions like ‘Tony’s brother/sister’, and the character is basically treated as a sideshow piece. Even that might be ok if all this was put to use in a storyline, e.g. something revolves around Harold, and Tony enters a part of the world he doesn’t understand and is deeply uncomfortable with. That never happens, though. Harold merely exists for chuckles, and the chuckles are based on belonging to a group that routinely gets crapped on anyway. No matter your opinion on writing or joking about marginalized groups in general, in this instance it feels like you’re being drawn in to help bully somebody, and it doesn’t feel too good.

 

And that’s unfortunate, because otherwise Chew is fantastic. If you can ignore a few instances of poor taste, the rest of it is definitely worth your time.

 

(4.3 / 5)

Star Wars: Darth Maul #1

Star Wars: Darth Maul #1

Darth Maul has finally returned in comic book form in this 5 issue miniseries from Marvel. One of the opening concerns with his one was the lack of Marvel’s consistency with their short Star Wars runs. Some are phenomenal, some are extremely lack luster and to do a disservice to Darth Maul fans everywhere is a dangerous game. With that in mind, I went into this comic book expecting Marvel to impress me, because if they didn’t at least meet my expectations, as they must do with all of their Star Wars comics, I’m going to be fairly disappointed. In the wake of a mixed bag of great and not so great star wars comics, Darth Maul’s uprising during the time of The Phantom Menace is a time period rarely explored in any Star Wars medium and Maul is a fan favorite, so there’s a lot of potential here, but also a lot of room to fail.

Darth Maul #1 takes place early in Maul’s apprenticeship with Palpatine, whose plan to overthrow the government and become the Emperor is still in very early works. Unfortunately for Maul, this means a lot of waiting in the shadows for the opportune time to strike, but this completely goes against Maul’s vicious and violent nature. He seeks challenge and the hunt, and without it he feels he’ll go insane. In order to sate his hunger, Palpatine sends his apprentice on various low key but bloody missions, keeping the Sith’s leash short enough to pull if Maul gets too out of hand. However when a new lead arises, Maul learns of a young Jedi vulnerable and exposed, he immediately takes the opportunity to prove himself to his ever meticulous and unimpressed master. Maul sees this as his one true chance to exceed his master’s expectations, and as a challenge to himself to destroy his first Jedi, one who he hopes will be of many.

Darth Maul #1 offers a new and often unexplored look into the Star Wars universe. Young Darth Maul is canonically completely unexplored, The Phantom Menace’s story line is barely touched and the Sith viewpoint, especially behind the scenes is always a treat. There are a lot of aspects to Darth Maul, and while we get to see so much more of him outside the first movie in The Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows, he’s still a character shrouded in mystery. In this first issue, we get to see a young, savage sith apprentice hungry for battle and for blood and it’s pretty convincing. The art is beautiful, the comic feels like Star Wars, and the writing up to this point is top notch. While this first issue wasn’t a mind blowing page turner by any means, Darth Maul shows a ton of promise, and is easily working up to be one of the best, if not the best 5 issue Star Wars series that Marvel has put out so far.

(4.5 / 5)

Man-Eaters #1

Man-Eaters #1

I cautiously approach this comic book for a number of reasons. Comic writers can get weird. Visions and ideas that are off the wall and wholly original simply because they’re completely oddball are a breeding ground at Image Comics. If it’s clever or funny, or outrageously violent or niche Image will let you publish it, and if it succeeds, it’s a win for everyone involved. Man Eaters is out of my wheelhouse. There’s no superheroes or spaceships so I’m automatically out of the loop, but I’m always willing to give a new comic book, especially one getting some community buzz, a read. I’ve spent some time with Image classics in this area like Rat Queens and Paper Girls, and enjoyed them, but both are set within often typical fantasy worlds I can latch onto. Man-Eaters is an utterly ridiculous modern world setting, and that’s just not my forte. So here we go. Strap in for this one.

As it turns out – there’s a new mutation going around out there and somehow it seems to manifest in cat poop. Anyone that’s cleaned a litter box, pet a cat, touched someone that’s pet a cat, and any little thing related has come into contact with this highly mobile mutation. Any girl that has it turns into a giant ferocious cat on her period. Yup. They turn into man-eating kitty cat killers when they’re menstruating and they’re nigh unstoppable. Luckily, the government has created preventative medical treatment that essentially stops woman from menstruating altogether, and hopefully stop the mutations from ever happening. Big cat killings are way down, and while it seems the efforts to stop these big cats from coming out have been mostly successful, there are cases of slip ups, and sometimes it’s simply unavoidable. Our main character Maude is a fairly typical 12 year old girl. Her dad is a CSI working under the authority of SCAT (yup), the organization made specifically for counter-big-cat-events. They’re the big wigs around here and they have the superiority complex to prove it. That’s not really Maude’s problem though, at least until it happens and she becomes one of those 1 in 100,000. Transformation incoming?

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this was the most comfortable read of my life. It’s weird and way too quirky for me, but I can’t tell you it was bad either. Man-Eaters is incredibly clever and self-aware, and without those elements at their maximum this comic book simply doesn’t work. Some of the current event jokes are perhaps a little outdated. A 12 year old asking for Minecraft money in 2018 is only like a 5 year old reference. If you aren’t making Fortnite jokes when you’re trying to be hip you’re probably off track a little bit. That being said there’s still some great laughs to be had here, and the creative team really lets loose with their nutty ideas. It’s violent, over the top, and wonderfully constructed. There are literally medical diagrams of changes that occur in the human body upon becoming exposed to the mutation, and articles talking about the outbreak, and PSAs talking about prevention and what to do in a kitty cat crisis. It’s absurd and totally respectable. Readers into these quirky Image comics will find something really cool here I think, and I hope it impresses.

 

(3.5 / 5)

Heroes in Crisis #1

Heroes in Crisis #1

Tom King seems to have really found his stride with the DC Comics world. He’s been given a lot of work recently, and it seems people respond well to his work. When DC canceled the 12 issue comic series Omega Men there was a massive outcry from the community, and King was able to finish the series. DC seems to have realized he has a dedicated following that won’t waver through thick and thin. The name sells now, similarly to Lemire or Snyder, and that’s enough for DC to give King this big ‘Crisis’ event – which is a very powerful term in the DC comics world. Heroes in Crisis screams Identity Crisis, a grounded 2004 comic book series centered around a more emotional, human level story. I consider Identity Crisis to be one of the best comic books of all time, and DC’s best comic book of all time. It’s hard to hold a flame to it, but if anyone can bring the sheer intensity and the weight of Identity Crisis, it’s Tom King. However, if anyone can totally fail to meet my expectations and create something far too clever for its own good, it’s also Tom King. Heroes in Crisis is promising in theory, but as long as King is as crazy as he is, I’m always skeptical, but I’m also always ready to be impressed by his work.

The first issue of Heroes is a bit of a mystery. Harley Quinn and Booster Gold are duking it out, why? Not so sure. These characters have some kind of unknown connection and appear to be blaming each other for a similar event that occurred sometime before. Said event was bloody, but that’s truly the extent of our current knowledge. Meanwhile the trio of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman are traveling place to place and finding, unbelievably, the bodies of various superheroes of renown, including Wally West and Arsenal. Considering there’s no way these characters are just dead, something particularly weird is going on. As it turns out – all dead heroes in question were receiving treatment from a group called Sanctuary, a hidden hospital created by the leaders of the Justice League to treat super heroes that had been traumatized during their heroism. Somehow, someone infiltrated Sanctuary, killed its purveyors and all of the heroes involved. Somehow, Booster Gold and Harley are connected, but still alive. So the question is raised, who did it?

To no surprise, Tom King’s style and tendencies show all over this comic book. It’s cryptic, people talk in riddles, and its incredibly stylized in its writing. When it comes to these stories, especially mysteries and psychological thrillers, King’s methods do shine. However, Identity Crisis was not only a beautifully dramatic and emotional story, its first issue alone sets up something that feels massive in scale but completely contained at the heart. Additionally, Identity Crisis made things feel real in ways that comic books usually don’t. Characters talked like people talked, they interacted like people interact, with or without superpowers. Heroes in Crisis already struggles to feel these ways by being wholly uninterpretable due to King’s proneness for the ambiguous and being extremely pattern-logged and stylistic in its dialogue. This is King’s signature writing method, I don’t think that’s terrible. However, issues going forward are more deterministic of the quality of this comic than I’d hoped, and that’s never a major win in my book. Heroes in Crisis has a hopeful, but questionable start. I’m eager to see where it goes, though ever skeptical.

(4 / 5)

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