Papercuts: 03-22-2017

Papercuts: March 22, 2017

By Ryan “HB” Mount

This week, we take a look at the reintroduction of two fan-favorite characters, Vampirella and Marvel’s Man-Thing with new jumping on points and big departures from status quo of the characters long histories.

Vampirella #1 (Dynamite)

After reviewing the #0 issue, there was a ton of mystery of where this series was heading.  I never would have thought from #0 that we were getting Vampirella in dystopian future Los Angles.  Perhaps as comic readers, we should welcome drastic changes and see where the story leads before rushing to conclusion.

This should not come as a surprise, but it felt like Paul Cornell was writing another episode of Doctor Who and not Vampirella.  There was a huge world presented with a lot of mystery and not a lot of explanation.  There was also some future speak dialogue which was alright for an opening issue, but hopefully does not bog down the story for the long term.

The art in this issue was fantastic.  While I appreciate the mood that the zero issue had set up, this set up a much different landscape.  There are remnants of Kirby and Moebius in the design work and spoke to my sensibilities.

There is also something to be said about a book taking a lot of chances.  There appears to be another narrative happening outside the panels on the page and certainly not conventional, I again think that a book taking some risks, should be something given some praise.

While this book is anything but traditional Vampirella, there are so many interesting things happening that this new launch deserves several issues before making a full judgement.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

Man-Thing #1 (Marvel)

If you were a child of the 1990’s and you saw that teen horror writer, R.L. Stine was writing a comic book, you would naturally be excited.

While for a long time, Man-Thing has been a lumbering and haunting character with oddly defined powers of portal jumping and instilling total fear into people, Stine decided to take the character in a completely new and different direction and is bound to rub some longtime fans the wrong way.

After reading this issue, you are left wondering if Stine had recently watched the 2005 film, Man-Thing which wanted to tell a funny story of how that film came to be made.  There were certain references from character designs to statements from characters in the book that leads us to that conclusion.  I was unsure if Stine was going for a Howard the Duck type of story for this book, but there the writing was not clever enough to hook readers.  The departure was so far removed from the original character that many old-time fans will have nothing to grab onto and new readers won’t have enough either.

The art was fine and seeing Man-Thing on the page was a real treat, when it came to everything else, it seemed clunky and rushed.

Ratings: 2.5 out of 5

 

Quick Cuts:

Zombie Camp #1 – This is a book has its issues, but it is intended for kids. Enjoy the simplicity.  Ratings: 2.5 out of 5

The Darkness Visible #2 – Mike Carey continues to tell a compelling story of a society where demons and humans struggle to co-exist.  A couple more layers added on in this issue.  Ratings: 3 out of 5

Eclipse #5 – New Arc.  Go back and pick up the trade, then jump in. Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Grim Tales of Terror (Vol. 3) #2 – Teen horror meets idle hands. Ratings: 2 out of 5

Grim Tales of Terror (Vol. 3) #3 – New art style for the book. Typical fare. Ratings: 2 out of 5

Richard Corben’s Shadows of the Grave #3 – The art alone is enough to add this to your monthly reading, but the creeps and scares keep it essential for any fans of the genre.   Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Lady Killer 2 #4 – Dexter meets Mad Men. Beautiful art.  Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Spook House #3 – Horror Anthology for kids! Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

When not writing about horror comics, Ryan enjoys long walks on shark infested beaches or at least watching them on the screen.  If you like what you read, tweet out the link to the column and use the #papercuts.  If you want to read more, follow Ryan @hebruise and look his other comic columns and interviews over at Two-Headed Nerd.com.

Paper Cuts: Vampirella Part 1

Mark Millar. Grant Morrison. Warren Ellis. James Robinson. Kurt Busiek. Alan Moore. Jeph Loeb. Amanda Conner. Jimmy Palmiotti. Tim Sale.

If I told you all those comic legends have given their talent to the same character that has been around for nearly 50 years, would you be able to guess the character? With all those creators working on the same property, you may think that it was a classic, iconic comic that currently dominates toy shelves and the big screen.

This icon was introduced in 1969 – just six years after, Avengers #1 – but she was not wearing tights. She was clad in a skin tight, red bikini.  It was the comics’ most infamous vampire, Vampirella.

It is hard to imagine that so many creators have worked on her over the years, yet the book for most comic circles goes relatively unnoticed in most comic circles.

For this very special edition of Paper Cuts, I wanted to tackle a couple issues of Vampirella in honor of Vampirella #0 which hit shelves last week and relaunch her series yet again.

Vampirella: Monthly Series Preview Edition #1 (Harris)

This could be arguably the most iconic team to work on the title. Grant Morrison and Mark Millar on writing duties, with art provided by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti.  While this was only a preview, the sole purpose of this was to get readers on board with the new launch and new direction of Vampirella.

The Amanda Conner art was clearly before the full height of her artistic powers, but still wonderful to marvel over. Her classic cartooning is very present, but the dark inks and heavy shadow cover the art, when they should have been highlighting her line work.

The story was engaging and felt more like a noir instead of your standard horror affair.

If you can find this preview issue and were looking to get into Vampirella, this is the perfect jumping on point. While it honors the continuity placed on it from years of storytelling before, the story is easy to follow for a new reader and gives you a fun timeline to follow in the back.  There are also interviews with the entire creative team.

Had this been the first issue I picked up of Vampirella ever, I may have been converted to a regular reader.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

Vampirella #0 (Dynamite)

The newest launch for Vampirella is written by Paul Cornell, who has written everything from Wolverine to Doctor Who. He also follows in the steps of classic Vampirella writers being from over the pond.  Jimmy Broxton tackles the art duties. He has worked with former series artist, Jimmy Palmiotti.

While this preview issue certainly sets the stage, it trots out one of my least favorite tropes: characters referencing their old continuity as a literal storybook of their past. While it will work once in a while with more tongue and cheek books like Die Kitty Die, here it felt a bit a forced.

Overall, the story does not give much away as far as the direction this book is going to head in so it is hard to grab one and really want more solely based on this issue alone which makes it a bit of a stumble. However, it is well-written with enough intrigue that it should be able to hook people who were interested in the series in the first place, whether that be a long time fan or someone discovering the character for the first time.

I really enjoyed the art, which had the very same aesthetic as the classic vampire comic, 30 Days of Night. It also felt like it belonged in the film universe of Day Watch and Night Watch. It’s a credit to Broxton that he is able to give a feel to the book so quickly in a short page count.

This zero issue also is packed full of interviews in the back. Unfortunately they are for all other books not named Vampirella.

Overall, it is hard to argue against buying this book since it carries a cover price of $0.25.

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Stay tuned for next week, when we take a look into a couple other re-launches of Vampirella, as well as some classic anthology stories.

Paper Cuts: 9/8/16

It’s back to school week for a lot of folks out there.  It’s the start of a new school year for some, but us over here at Paper Cuts HQ, it is a new week of comics.  And three #1 issues to start this year off on the right…

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Eclipse #1 (Image / Top Cow)

Imagine a world where being in the sun for even a moment would kill you.  There is no trade off where you get to live forever or fly in the night sky.  Just a normal human, being forced to live your life underground, except for the ICEMEN who wear a sophisticated suit to help them navigate the new landscape.

World building is always fun and if a number #1 issue is done right, the creators will give you just enough rules to understand, but will also leave you with questions.  Zach Kaplan does an excellent job of building the world with his cast of characters and very little text boxes.  In a single issue, he delivers a large cast of memorable characters, builds out a world and weaves a tale of mystery and murder.

At first glance, I thought the overall art to be a bit too bright overall and almost exhausting with the constant brightness of it all, but after sitting down and looking it back over, I believe that is what they were very subtlety building.  Brightness in the night, brightness underground, and just a constant bombardment of light.  Really effective story telling told through color and dialogue.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

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The Great Divide #1 (Dynamite)

Infectious disease horror is an oft forgotten form of horror outside the zombie genre.  When we look at our real lives with diseases like Ebola and Zika, it terrifies everyone and can cause an immediate state of panic.   With basically one text box, Ben Fisher sets up a paradigm in a world where humans can no longer touch one another without immediately causing death due to a disease that nearly wiped out the human race and makes it impossible to reproduce.  This book may share some similar tones and themes of “Y: The Last Man,” but that is not a bad thing.

Now do not get me wrong, I am not going to put The Great Divide next to Y: The Last Man, but it was solid story telling with enough world building and plot to keep me interested.

Dynamite as a company has traditionally focused on writers and the art has suffered because of it.  Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the art provided by Adam Markiewicz was better than lot of other books I reviewed for this column.  The style reminded me of Mike Henderson, who is currently working on Paper Cuts’ favorite, Nailbiter.

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

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Glitterbomb #1 (Image)

The solicit promised “terror in the water” and although it loosely delivered, that was not the main focus on this #1.  A washed up, aging, down-on-her-luck actress is looking for a miracle and becomes possessed with an uncontrollable “thing” that emerges from the water.

Although I usually like to rate the comics strictly on storytelling and art, but this was a nice bounce back for creator Jim Zub.  Zub may be known for his sword and sorcery writing; his work on horror-fantasy mashup of Wayward has been very enjoyable.  However, his work over at Marvel left me feeling flat, so I was happy to see him come back to something where he can stretch his creativity.

Ratings: 3 out of 5