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Patrick and Myles’ Comic Book Buy Pile 9/2/15

Patrick & Myles Pick:

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{P}: So I figured instead of Myles and myself fighting each month with who gets to pick IDW’s “Jem and the Holograms” by Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell as their favorite comics, I would provide a place for us to settle our differences, and both gush over it. Issue #6 is on your comic book stands this week and we get what we’ve been waiting for this entire series: vehicles shaped liked musical instruments (and now a no spoilers review besides that major spoiler).

{M} Yeah, I could not get over those designs at all. SO GOOD. There will come a time when I run out of superlative things to say about Thompson and Campbell’s Jem and the Holograms comic, BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY. What’s so wonderful about  Jem #6, which ends the “Showtime” arc, is how the story feels like the perfect pilot episode. It serves as a springboard, not a cutting off point. Yes, it ends that “episode,” but it’s the period that ends the opening paragraph. Thompson won us over with these richly developed characters, and this issue essentially promises readers that it’s only the beginning.

{P} As always I feel like the strengths of this book are what set it apart from a lot of other comic books out there today: emotionally connected characters that speak and feel like real people on the page. Despite the amazingly vibrant and beautiful art by Campbell, and colors by M. Victoria Robado, and the quasi-sci-fi zaniness of the book it really defies expectations for a comic based on an 80’s cartoon and feels true to life. It really feels like consuming engaging television or terrific YA literature the likes of John Green and Rainbow Rowell (a comic book name if ever there was one, but I digress).

{M} I agree. Robado and Campbell do some amazing heavy lifting on their end for the visual development of these characters. The facial expressions alone are worth the entry fee. Campbell’s use of facial and body language emotes like few others in the industry can, while Robado finds the perfect vibrant balance to maintain a wild, fun look, that manages never to distract from the story’s more human, heartfelt moments.

{P} Yeah, we have spoken about the character designs a great deal before, but clearly defined emotion on the characters are what really shine through for me. It is really interesting how much of the warmth and personality Campbell is able to bring out in her art. I would love to see her tackle a silent story.

{M} Oh, man. I love that idea! There’s so much potential down the road. Jem never feels like a tired reboot, of which there are plenty. It’s not a cash in. Neither the story nor the artwork lean on the franchise’s history as a crutch, but the soul and draw of the original haven’t been forgotten. Thompson brings an authenticity and care to Jem that the character never has had the opportunity to receive, and in doing so, has rebranded Jem in an unmistakably unique fashion that will be remembered for a long time.

{P} In this issue we get the fallout from the previous issue #5 which was my favorite of the series so far. I think each issue does build upon itself as we get to learn more about the bands. There is a lot of great characters in both the Holograms and the Misfits, and I can see each character becoming some young reader’s favorite. Not me though, I can’t pick between them all right now as the entire ensemble is great.

{M} Neither can I, but it’s a testament to the entire creative team’s ability  to balance such a large ensemble cast as successfully as they do. Six issues in, Jem is still one of my very favorite books to read month after month. If you’re reading this article and you’ve still not picked up Jem, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!

{P} We are going to have more to say once the Annual and eventual Trade comes out, but I wouldn’t wait to start this series another day. While it doesn’t hurt, you don’t have to be an established fan of Jem, nor read a lot of comics to be able to pick up, read and love this series today. “Jem and the Holograms” Issue 6 is out now.

 

 

Myles: Batman Beyond #4

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DC’s Future’s End failed to deliver the promised experience. Not only did they kill off Terry McGuinness after finally officially making him part of DC continuity, they replaced him with A version of Tim Drake and threw him into a future that pretty much negated the entire Future’s End experience. Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang had their work cut out for them.

I’m one of the biggest Tim Drake fans out there, and even I wasn’t crazy about him being Batman Beyond. Partly because I love Terry, partly because…I thought it an odd fit. That said, Jurgens and Chang have been telling an extremely entertaining story that I find myself enjoying more and more each week.

Jurgens taps into a lot of character traits recognizable in pre-52, particularly in his self doubt. Of course, doubt like that can quickly get everyone killed when you’re defending one of the last known free cities from Brother Eye. Chang’s pencils, particularly his wide panels, give the story a cinematic scope, while Marcelo Maiolo’s palette keeps the red haze of war present, but never shies in making Batman the bold symbol he needs to be.

You don’t need to have read Future’s End to enjoy Batman Beyond. It’s a future Batman stuck in a crumbling dystopia. It’s simple. It’s fun. And it plays with future versions of characters that seem to still remind us of the DC of old.

 

Patrick: “Lady Killer” Graphic Novel Volume 1.

2015-01-05-ladykillerMy pick for this weeks is the first volume of Dark horse Comics’ “Lady Killer” by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich. While it is not often that I pick a collected book as my pick of the week, I have been enjoying this series in single issues and the trade that just came out was so beautiful I snatched it up yesterday and have to spread my interest in this title. When we had a chance to sit down with Steve Sunu from Dark Horse last spring the first issue of Lady Killer had just come out and we were all excited about it. A morbid connection between Madmen and La Femme Nikita, the art and stylized nature of the books made for easy selling points. I have been reading it since, but alas haven’t had it as my pick of the week. That stops now:

This trade collects the first five issues of this story, and introduces Josie, a home-maker in 1960’s suburbia who is living the perfect life of family, friends and a two-car garage; also she murders people for money. Josie has worked for a shadowy organization for some time as a contract killer, and we see here in this first arc the complications of her two diametrically opposed lives coming into conflict. She kills, and while her backstory and motivations remain a mystery, she already has more personality and punch than Dexter, and is hands down more fun to enjoy.
This is excellent action and suspense in graphic novel form. A story and characters that seems like they were pulled directly from a stylized period film, with a plot that is full of mystery and still quite wide open. I can’t speak too much to the plot without ruining some of the fun, but it is fast paced and reads great here in trade form. I enjoyed the issues in single format, but each one really left me wanting more, but here collected you are getting a shot in the arm of story and art that is well worth the value and time investment.

What I can talk a great deal about is the amazing art in this book. Looking like the characters stepped right out of the past, this meticulously researched book feels right where many period books seem to falter. The people, locales and everything in between look gorgeous. Jones’ previous projects with Rich are all beautiful and fell like they were leading up to this book. The character designs are terrific, with a wash of realism over the picture-perfect animated art style when it comes to the inevitable nitty-gritty blood splatters. Laura Allred‘s coloring is great here, bringing the color palette of the time to life (you can smell the polyester through the panels).

I am also happy to report my wife is also on board to start reading this title after I gave her the trade yesterday. There are only a few titles that we both really dig into, so I am so glad that she fell in love with Jones’ art at first sight. You and me, both, dear. I should mention at this point I am not 100% sure my wife doesn’t have a secret murder-filled life I don’t know about, but regardless her opinion means a lot to me as she is an intelligent and beautiful lady of discerning taste (…she could be reading this). “Lady Killers” graphic novel is out now, so do yourself a favor and pick it up today.

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