We might get an extra day this year, and it might even be today, but there were still only seven days this week — don’t ask me how that works. In any case, there was a hell of a lot that hit LCS shelves this week, and I’ve chosen four brand-spanking-new debuts to give the once-over, so here they are, arranged in descending order of quality —
Tomorrow #1 comes our way courtesy of editor Karen Berger and her Berger Books imprint at Dark Hose, and teams veteran scribe Peter Milligan with artist Jesus Hervas, continuing this line’s interesting pattern of pairing the old with the new. Milligan, for his part, used to be one of the most interesting and radical writers in the business — Enigma still ranks among my top ten comics of all time —but he’s been a pretty serious hit-or-miss proposition in recent years, with certain projects (Kid Lobotomy) having some of that same punk/surreal flair, while others (The Discipline) are just relentlessly awful. We’re getting “Good Milligan” here, fortunately, and if things continue as strongly as they started, who knows? Maybe we’ll even end up getting “Great Milligan” again for the first time in, like, forever. The premise here is that of a computer virus jumping the techno-barrier and infecting the real world, leaving all adults dead and a new generation suddenly in charge of the world, which sorta plays on contemporary coronavirus fears (although it was obviously written well before that outbreak hit), albeit with a clever sci-fi twist. Our protagonist is a cello-playing prodigy who goes in search of his sister, and the dystopian world we’re introduced to is at once interesting and well-fleshed-out, even if our ostensible “hero” really, well, isn’t so much yet. But I’m willing to let that slide for the time being, figuring that we’ve got four more installments to get around to all that, and Hervas’ art is workmanlike in the best possible way, communicative and polished without too much by way of stylistic bells and whistles. I’m really curious to see how this all plays out, so I’ll be sticking around for the five-issue duration.
Falcon & Winter Soldier #1 is Marvel’s latest attempt to do something with these two former Captain Americas (or is that Captains America?), this time as co-stars in the same book, and I like that writer Derek Landy is picking up on some threads left over from Secret Empire and trying to re-introduce Hydra as a force to be reckoned with — unfortunately, the “kid assassin” villain they dispatch to wipe out Sam and Bucky is an annoying as hell villain, and the cliffhanger at issue’s end is both forced and entirely non-sensical. On the plus side, the first 2/3 of the book was fun and absorbing, and artist Federico Vicentini turns in some really nice works that’s halfway between the Eurocomics-influenced stylings of Matteo Scalera and the personality-heavy-but-pleasingly-basic genre work of Scott Godlewski. I wasn’t blown away by anything in this book by any means, but I’m more than happy to give it a few more months to either win me over for certain or lose me for good.
Finger Guns #1 kicks off a well-publicized new series from Vault Comics, but unfortunately it doesn’t earn the promotional muscle spent on its behalf, as writer Justin Richards’ story about a couple of outcast teens who find they can make magical shit happen by pointing their titular “finger guns” at typical passers-by is a pretty lame slog. The two kids we’re asked to identify with are dull ciphers with blandly-generalized home lives (one’s perpetually neglected, the other has an abusive dad) and no real clue what to do with their ill-defined powers. Luckily, artist Val Halvorson has a nice handle on the more vaguely “cartoony” style that’s popular in these types of “YA” comics — but competent, if unremarkable, illustration alone isn’t enough to keep me around. The rest of the comics internet seems to like this book hell of a lore more than I do, and you know what? Let ’em have it. I can’t find any compelling reason to keep reading this one at all.
Hidden Society #1 brings us back to Dark Horse, and to the worst fucking comic I read all week. Writer Rafael Scavone and superstar artist Rafael Albuquerque collaborated on the solid graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s A Study In Emerald from the same publisher a couple of years ago, but they both turn in work that seems rushed and unimaginative here, with Scavone’s script reading like a watered-down, unfocused rehash of Mark Millar and Olivier Coipel’s The Magic Order (and if you’re half-assing things even more than Millar, that’s saying a lot), and the art looking exponentially more plain, and less inspired, than anything I think I’ve ever seen from Albuquerque. Not that there’s much interesting for him to draw here, anyway — the backstories of all these characters, and their 1979 environs, aren’t really fleshed out in any appreciable way, and we don’t even get a hint that there’s gonna be a villain in the offing, although the “next issue” blurb assures us that one’s on the way. This entire project seems like an attempted pitch for a Netflix series, but if they don’t improve things, and quickly, it’s kinda doubtful that this is gonna end up being the hot Hollywood IP they want it to be. Really, a pretty goddamn awful comic.
So, yeah, lots of ups and down this week — with more “down” than “up,” I’m afraid. Hopefully next week offers us a better batting average, but until then, it’s my job to remind you that this column is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to check it out by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse