Saturday, March 24, 2012

Comic Quickies: New Sagas and Projects

Saga #1: Well, I've been eagerly waiting for this comic since it was announced way back in July at San Diego Comic Con.  Seems like ages ago.  Well, I'm happy to say that Saga appears to have been very much worth the wait.  As far as first issues go, this one is about as good as they come.  Vaughan does a fantastic job of introducing the characters, setting up the story, all while building and developing the universe in which the story takes place...oh, and it's an exciting action packed first issue too.

In the opening pages of Saga we get a rather intimate view of young woman, Alana who is giving birth to her first child in a mechanic's shop, while her husband, Marko lends a hand.  Both Marko and Alana are human-like aliens, and as it turns out, of different races; Races which happen to be at war with one another...a war that is spanning the galaxy.

Alana is from a planet called Landfall, the largest in the galaxy, while Marko is from Wreath, the one and only satellite moon of Landfall.  Apparently, familiarity breeds contempt.  Since destruction of one would send the other spinning out of orbit, each side has outsourced the war to other planets, and now the entire galaxy finds itself embroiled in the conflict.

Aside from Marko and Alana, it looks like there's a few other players that will be big parts of the overall story.  The art here is pretty great too.  It's all handled nicely by Fiona Staples who seems to be just the right fit for this epic galaxy spanning story.  She's called upon to draw a wide variety of people, creatures and settings here, and it all looks wonderful.  I'm excited to see more from Staples.

Saga scores points on many fronts, not the least of which is the cost/value front.  You get 44 pages of comic here for $2.99!  Probably the most bang for your buck.  Also, Vaughan and  Staples earn lots of cool points from me for depicting a brown woman breast feeding on the cover of their first issue.  That might sound like a silly thing, but by and large the comics world is a sexist and racist place, and I was happy to see a comic that makes a clear statement that it will not continue to perpetuate a shitty trend.  I'm very excited to see where this one leads.

Manhattan Projects #1: This one ain't gonna win any awards for cool cover art, but it's what's inside that counts right?  Manhattan Projects is another comic from Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, the creative team that brought us The Red Wing.  I wasn't super impressed with The Red Wing, especially on the art front as I felt that Pitarra was pretty inconsistent through the course of the 4 issue series. But the writing wasn't so hot either.  So really, I didn't have a ton of momentum coming into this title, aside from the fact that Hickman's ideas always sound so damn cool and I usually want to read and see if he delivers.

The concept here is sort of a what if situation where Hickman asks, what if the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bomb, was instead the Manhattan Projects a place for all kinds of weird and wild science experiments and creations to flourish?  *Sigh* I'm such a sucker for mad science.

This first issue focuses on Robert Oppenheimer's first day on the job as he is hired by some dude from the war department that appears to be a cross between Sargent Slaughter and The Great Santini.  A tour of the facilities follows and Hickman mixes in Oppenheimer's and his twin brother's back-story, while the Japanese send a troop of robots through a portal and attack the science facilities.

It makes for an interesting and exciting first issue, but I'm still a bit skeptical.  Pitarra's art still suffers from inconsistency, there's some stuff that looks good, some not so good, and some that looks down-right poor.  (Like the time the guy from the War Deparment's head looks like an unshelled peanut with eyes, ears, nose and mouth.) Consider me firmly on the fence.

Peter Panzerfaust #2: I've been eagerly awaiting this issue too, because I was so pleasantly surprised by the opening issue.  The second issue didn't let me down either.

Peter, and his plucky band of orphan boys manage to waylay some Nazis, steal their guns, knock 'em senseless, steal some intelligence, and plan a rescue mission for some captured Brits.  Not bad for a bunch of teens with no military training.

Wiebe delivers a thrilling and action packed issue once again and continues his red-hot streak of great comic writing.  Jenkins' art is a great accompaniment too.  He evokes the war-torn, occupied France look and feel very well.

My only gripe is that aside from Peter, I have a hard time keeping the other boys straight.  I think I know for sure who Felix is (cold hearted bastard in a short sleeved shirt and sweater-vest) but the other dudes are a blur of names and similar looking faces and outfits. There is one with a white dude 'fro, but I can't parcel out his name yet...I suppose I could just refresh my memory by going back to the first issue, but I'm lazy.  I'm fucked if these kids change clothes.

My laziness aside, this is a fun and entertaining comic that appears to be building towards cool things.  Bring on some more!

Blue Estate #10: One of my favorite comics reaches double digits this month and to commemorate, Viktor Kalvachev and co. deliver what is quite possibly the most hilarious issue of Blue Estate yet.  I was happily entertained by the real estate deal turned creepy/weird sex scene starring the Beckhams Peckhams which had a cameo appearance from none other than the Hoff.

They also mix in some funny stoners, get a racehorse high, and deliver some funny sexual repartee between starlet Rachel Maddox and my favorite character, Tony Luciano.  On top of all that, they also build the plot up to a nice boiling point that will likely erupt next issue.

With this tenth issue, it really seems like the creative minds behind Blue Estate have hit stride and are feeling very comfortable with the story.  This comic has a pretty complex plot with lots of ins and outs, but it has been masterfully delivered and the ride is a lot of fun.  I know I've said this before, but I highly recommend Blue Estate.

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