- Posted by Johanna on December 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm
- Category: Indy Comic Reviews
Angel & Faith #5
by Christos Gage and Phil Noto
Dark Horse Comics, $2.99 US
No, that’s not Buffy you’re seeing on the cover — it’s too soon for the “I’m sure it will happen eventually” crossover event — it’s Harmony, the media darling vampire. She’s come to London (where Angel and Faith live in Giles’ old apartment) to get their help with a blackmailer. This issue is doing a riff on classic hardboiled detective style, a choice that, as Angel himself points out on the opening page, is a good one for the character. The story is also a parody of brainless celebrity culture, but one that left me thinking: Maybe people who care only about themselves really are happier, since they aren’t bothered by stuff like empathy or doing the right thing or guilt or regret or ethical debate?
This stand-alone issue provides some comedy relief after the roller-coaster launch storyline, and it was both welcome and funny. If the PR description hadn’t pointed out Phil Noto was the guest artist, I wouldn’t have noticed. His style is well-suited to the cast likenesses, as well as the occasional silly cameo. A great starting point, if you haven’t tried the series yet, with amusing dialogue throughout.
Fraggle Rock Classics
by Stan Kay and Marie Severin
Archaia Entertainment, $9.95 US
To go along with their Fraggle comics and other licensed titles from The Jim Henson Company, Archaia has released this small paperback reprinting the first four issues of the Fraggle Rock comic published in 1985 by Marvel’s Star Comics imprint.
The stories are timeless, and the characters are drawn adorably by the legendary Marie Severin, with a cute softness suitable for puppets. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first story, even without a connection to the property, because of the lesson it teaches. The gang are having a hard time, while jumping rope, keeping everyone at the same speed, so Gobo (in his voyage to Outer Space, i.e. our world) picks up a metronome. The Fraggles all start operating at the same rapid speed, but soon, they’re overtired and stressed out from having to live so fast. (A message! And one I can truly appreciate!)
That’s only one of the four long and well-cartooned stories here, including an adorable one about a Doozer looking for her place in the world. (She thinks she wants to be a Fraggle, but that doesn’t work out so well.) One of the things I liked best about this series, in contrast to the more recent Archaia Fraggle stories, is that Doc and his dog Sprocket appear (along with Gorgs and Uncle Travelling Matt). That contrasts human behavior with Fraggles and makes the tales more approachable for me. Kids may enjoy the Fraggle-only stories as a glimpse into another world and another way of living, but I prefer the greater sense of interconnection.
by Chris Roberson and Rich Ellis
IDW Publishing, $3.99 US
I’ve been curious about this title since last July, when it was first mentioned, because I liked the story idea, about an amnesiac who has unknown ties to a fantasy world. Unfortunately, I found the third party narration, telling us what we’re seeing in a faux-literary style, off-putting. I felt as though the words were struggling against the images, which are lovely. The two didn’t gel for me, and I think I would have preferred a more modern narrative style. This gave me the feeling of someone wanting to be writing The Wizard of Oz or some other fantasy story written a couple of centuries ago.
Thankfully, that only lasted halfway through this first issue (of a six-issue miniseries). At that point, the unknown Miss M enters the mysterious “this wasn’t here before” shop full of wonders, and characters start talking to each other instead of being described by caption boxes. I much preferred that style of storytelling.
It’s also unfortunate that having an army led by Pinocchio reminded me of Fables, while the mysterious key sounds like another IDW title, Locke and Key. It’s very difficult to do an original fantasy these days, since everything feels like something else older. I also have the usual caveat when it comes to IDW series — at the $4 price, and given that this is a limited series, it’s probably easier (and more cost-effective) to wait and buy the collection at a discount. I suggest watching for reviews of future issues to decide if it’s your kind of story. I’m not sure myself yet. There’s a lot of potential, but I still need to figure out whether I care enough to follow it through.
by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin
Action Lab Entertainment, $3.99 US
Readers of my review of the previous issue will be happy to know that the focus is firmly back on Princess Adrienne in this issue. After the excitement of the prior installment of the story, she needs to get some sensible armor that fits, which leads to her meeting the determined Bedelia, a blacksmith’s daughter with a secret of her own.
While viewing possible armor designs, the writer makes a number of jabs at the typical outfits of women warriors. Comic fans will recognize the characters being satirized, and while it’s still a problem that female fighters wear stupid outfits for battle, it’s also a familiar complaint and one that has been made in plenty of other places. Still, I love Bedelia, and it’s reassuring to see that she’s facing similar problems to Adrienne in a different class (working instead of royal). Adrienne needed more friends, especially ones this gung-ho and achievement-oriented.
I’m just worried about pacing, with only one more issue to go with this miniseries — it doesn’t seem that Adrienne will be able to achieve all of her aims, including finding her sister, in just one more installment. I know more miniseries are planned, but I was hoping this one would be a fulfilling read in its eventual book form, and my definition of “satisfying” here includes successfully completing at least one quest.
(The publishers provided review copies of the above titles, most digitally.)