Welcome to Compicphiles, where we give you a hint of what’s new on the shelves at your local comic store! This week’s instalment is brought to you by random chance, wherein I scrounge through my most recent stack of purchases in panic, trying to find some new releases, all the while reminding myself that I reallllllyyyy need to catch up on my back catalogue.
I’ve been getting into X-Men in a big way recently, but after the recent ending of the Uncanny and All-New titles, I was getting pretty tired of the doom and gloom that seems to have been surrounding the mutants since all the way back at M-Day. Luckily, the folks at Marvel Comics sensed my fatigue and replied with X-Men 92′ , a callback to the animated X-Men series which had it’s debut in titular year. However, this new X-Series is more than just a reference to the past, it is actually set in the universe of the animated series.
X-Men ’92 is written by Chris Sims and Chad Bowers, with art by Alti Firmansyah, a creative team with whom I have no familiarity whatsoever. That said, I reckon I’ll be keeping an eye on them in future. In this issue they’ve done a great job of keeping in line with the high-energy, swashbuckling action of the original show. Right off the bat, the colours are bursting off the page and the layout is chaotic in the best possible way. The characters a re-introduced with fists flying, none of this patient soliliquay nonsense, exactly as you’d expect from the almost 25 year old TV series. Wolverine, Storm, Gambit, Rogue and of course Professor X himself (Darn I’ve missed that bald head of his) are the main players in the first issue, with plenty of other familiar faces making an appearance. Any fans of the show will feel right at home here, with each of the characters borrowing on their old screen-personalities, with Hank McCoy being the one exception, seeming a lot more jittery here than I remember him being in the past.
Reading this return to the X-Men of my childhood felt like slipping on an old familiar glove…My one criticism is the lack of Kirby Dots on the splash pages!
Will I continue reading? Sure will! I’m looking forward to seeing what this new team brings to the table.
Baltimore: Empty Graves
I picked this up without realising that the Baltimore title had a lot of history behind it. Normally, having missed out on so much would put me off picking up a title, but I wandered on ahead anyway after seeing Mike Mignola‘s name attached to it.
This story begins in St. Petersburg in the year 1920, with a group of characters interrogating what appeared to be zombies, addressed as being in service of The Red King. After this, it cuts to a second group of characters in the process of digging graves. It was around this point that I realized I was missing out on some hefty backstory, as a discussion began on a number of other names with what seemed like familiarity that I was missing out on, rather than a sort of cryptic mystery to drive the plot forward. A caption of “In Baltimore : Cult Of The Red King” later confirmed my suspicion.
Mignola’s art is as good as any I’ve seen before, able to sell muted grey colours without having the entire image come off as bland and vacant (*cough* Batman Vs. Superman *cough*). Even though I felt a bit lost in the story, the scenes were rendered so well that I was still drawn into the story. I don’t want to criticize the rest of the story too much, since I’ve accidentally jumped in well past the shallow end, but I will say that this has piqued my interest in the rest of the Baltimore series and I’ll likely be checking it out in the future.
Will I continue reading? Not right now. I feel I’m missing too much of what’s going on.
Empress, from the team of Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen almost didn’t make the cut on my comic order. I’m plenty familiar with both their work, and I’m a huge admirer of Immonen‘s art, but Millar can be extremely hit or miss for my tastes. I ultimately decided to give it a chance since Millar‘s last Sci-Fi story scored majorly well on the Mark-o-meter. Thank God I did.
Empress is set to be another great space-opera in the same vein as Starlight, and as with Starlight, there is a welcome break from the vulgarity and edginess for which Millar is most readily known. It opens by explaining that this is a story that occurred a Long, Long Time Ago on a galaxy not very far away at all. In fact, this is all set on Earth, with Immonen presenting our pale blue dot inhabited by a super civilization, millennia before we were ever born. From there, the plot zooms all the way in to focus on the royal family of the time and begins to spin it’s own version of the Buck Rogers-esque trappings. As the emperor oversees pit-fighting between slaves and a dinosuar, his empress, Emporia, is plotting to escape his reign, explaining that she refuses to have her children raised amid such madness.
I don’t want to go into much more detail, because the story is a treasure to experience and I won’t spoil it. Suffice to say that Millar has shifted his ratio for me firmly into the ‘hit’ zone with this, and Immonen seems to have been born to portray sprawling space battles and the lounges of the future (past?), with bright neon and soft curves making every scene good enough to drool over.