Greetings comic fans! Comic Bento was generous enough to send us at Comic Plug their July box that was themed The Little Guy. We were so impressed that we bought their October box, because we were curious to see if it was a fluke. October’s theme was Masks, an idea that was conjured up by comic writer superstar Gail Simone who supposedly picked the books for this one. That seems pretty sweet, and with the impression we were left with after July, we have one question: Can lightning strike twice? Let’s see.
WARNING: There will be some spoilers here, but I'll try to keep them limited.
Orchid: Volume 1 – Dark Horse
Let’s start off with a book I’ve never heard of. The story itself is awfully generic: Post apocalyptic world where environmental carelessness and corporations led to the downfall of society. Society is ruled by the rich with an iron fist; blah, blah, blah. The action starts pretty much right away and sadly, the action got overshadowed by the rampant preachy “women are more than objects” message that littered the book. Prostitutes (including the main protagonist Orchid) literally have the word “Property” tattooed on their chests and “Know Your Role” is BRANDED on their arms. (Now it all makes sense as to why Simone would select this book). I fully support equal rights and more women in comics, but even I found this a little much and pretty nauseating. But, I’m sure that was what Morello was going for.
It eventually gets better with cool action sequences involving fighting monsters, but the entire time you’re waiting to be preached to again. There is something somewhat unique: a magical mask that gives you powers if you’re worthy or kills you in the most gruesome way. The art by Scott Hepburn and the coloring by Dan Jackson save this book though. The art very nice to look at and not “cartoony”. Jackson managed to make this book colorful while keeping it’s gritty, mundane tone (he should give lessons to Zach Snyder). The story is an interesting spin, but at the end of the day it’s just another Fallout or Hunger Games. I will however bump the grade up for giving me something I’ve never heard of, as I love reading new things. The mask concept is pretty cool too, probably the only reason to keep reading.
- Inclusion Grade: C+
Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More – Marvel
Probably the most well known book of the bunch. I figured that Simone would have pick one of her own AAA titles to be included in this month’s box, like Batgirl or Birds of Prey. So, it was nice to see Simone not tooting her own horn and giving her fellow writers the nod instead. Carol Danvers is awesome, there’s no other way to describe her. She’s basically Marvel’s answer to Wonder Woman. I know this ongoing was wildly popular, but (some of you are going to kill me for this), the story is kind of meh in the beginning. Starts off with her hanging out with Tony Stark and Rodney- doing the usual superhero stuff, taking care of a little girl and her mother while they get back on her feet, and owning cats.
Suddenly she abruptly says to Rodney: “I want to go to space for a year, I don’t know why, bye!” (I’m paraphrasing here). Then whoosh, off she goes! Needless to say I went: “Wait… What?” This is where she runs into the Guardians of the Galaxy and some alien girl. She then has an escort quest to take the girl back to her home world and that’s where all hell breaks loose. So the story picks up nicely after a slow, slightly confusing start. The art by David Lopez is really pretty for the most part, but the same issues I have with most Marvel books plague this one. There are little to no backgrounds in most panels. Usually it’s just one solid color like green or orange which make the panels bland and boring, and it makes the artist look lazy. That being said, the book is quite good and it makes me want to pick up the whole series. This alone pays for the entire box.
- Inclusion Grade: B+
Green Hornet: Bully Pulpit – Dynamite
Awesome, the original Batman! I love Dynamite keeping the classic characters alive and giving them a fresh twist. We must never forget the past or the characters who gave inspiration to what we know today. Before I even opened this book up I knew it was going to be great. Why? Two words: Mark Waid. One of the legends in the history of comic books. (He wrote this little book called Kingdom Come, heard of it?) Needless to say, I was excited despite having limited knowledge about Green Hornet and his side kick Kato. The story takes place in the 1940s, which follows his origin. Being the purist that I am, I love that. This story kicks ass, that’s all there is to it. Corruption, betrayal, action, and just about all you could want from a title like this.
Without delving too much into it, Britt Reid (Green Hornet’s alter ego) is trying to clean up corruption with his newspaper and uses his Green Hornet persona to get in with the villains by convincing them that he’s one of them. Well, he finally gets too big for his britches and becomes so sure of himself that he slips up, and a lot of people get hurt because of him. This is what Batman used to be before he became all about punching contests. The artwork is excellent (if you can’t tell by now, art in comics is very important to me, probably more important than the writing itself) it’s one of the best in the box. I also really liked the fact that Waid’s original script was included as bonus content in the back of the book. That’s really awesome, and something I wish I saw a lot more of in the industry. All in all, this is by far my favorite book in the box and much like with Captain Marvel, worth the box by itself. Mark Waid with another winner.
- Inclusion Grade: A
Harbringer: Omega Rising – Valiant
Valiant has really upped their game the last few years, and have transformed from an average/mediocre (depending on the book) 90s comic company, into a company that puts out fantastic stories. Harbringer is one of those stories. The thing that draws me immediately to this book is the cover, with all the thought bubbles of the people around. From silly pop culture references like: “Tebow!!!” and “I miss Chappelle.” to serious things like: “If he hits me again I’ll leave him, I swear.” and “I miss mom.” It’s one of the more interesting covers I’ve seen in comics. This book is more of a reboot of the 90s story of sorts, more so than it is it’s own entity. And I gotta tell you, it’s pretty good, for the most part that is.
If you can’t tell by the cover, Peter Stanchek (main protagonist) has psionic powers, and he’s only one of two other “harbringers” in existence with this power. Every other harbringer have different powers. So, basically, it’s X-Men with a mix of Spider-Man. Lots of teen angst as a kid learns how to cope/control his powers as he takes down a guy with the same powers as him who is trying to conquer the planet because he thinks he’s the next step in evolution (Magneto?). Despite it’s somewhat generic story (like Orchid) it’s really interesting. Out of all four books, this one has the best art and its not even close. Everything about it is great. The drawings aren’t over the top or minimalist, it’s just right. The coloring is vibrant and pops when the story calls for it and gets dark and drab when needed. The colorists really knew what they were doing.
- Inclusion Grade: B-