Action Man (IDW/Hasbro)
Did you have an Action Man when you were a kid? I did. I had a few too many, actually. One Christmas, I got an Action Man and my friends got PlayStation games and it was clear I needed to move on. I thought I had, but apparently I didn’t, because as it turned out this comic is based on the toys I used to play with. When that realisation sunk in, I got happy. Really happy.
In my head, Action Man was exactly that; a man of action. He didn’t have much of a backstory and he definitely worked alone. To paraphrase a zero punctuation video, he was a grim growly man who growled grimly. In this comic by John Barber and Paolo Villanelli, Action Man is much more than my adolescent self could dream up. He’s a super-master master-super-spy. Not only is this Action Man a sort of genital-less James Bond who works for the British government, he’s a member of MENSA, a mega-black belt at Judo, and has Michelin stars. Plural. Guess how many. Just guess. It’s more than two. Seriously.
This isn’t a spoiler because it’s in the summary, but Action Man is actually dead and now the Nightwing to his Batman, who is called IAN, has to take over. That’s the new story arc. Action Ian. Amazing. I don’t for one second believe that Action Man is actually dead (because then my childhood would be as well), and from the feel of this issue he’s definitely going to make an appearance later. This comic was really surprising, though. The art is bold and sort of cartoony which makes sense for its target audience of twelve-year-olds, but the script knows that people (potentially much) older will be reading it.
Unless I feel a serious craving for more nostalgia, I probably won’t keep reading. It’s just nice to know Action Man is still out there, cooking up a storm.
Indoctrination (Z2 Comics)
This is more serious stuff. Indoctrination is mostly set in the American South and it reads like a cross between True Detective and Homeland. The parallels to those shows actually might be a little too close to the bone.
In the opening scenes there’s a nude corpse in a pose and lots of smoking and cynicism. The older male detective is jaded and the other younger female thinks something bigger is going on. The tortured, lonely male doesn’t know where the line between right and wrong is anymore and the plucky career-driven female wants to crack the case. The story develops in scope, with some terrorism flavours, but ultimately narrative tension is low.
Indoctrinated feels like the creative team, writer Michael Moreci and artist Matt Battaglia, are cutting their teeth by producing something inspired by media they love. Both creators give the impression of still feeling out their craft. With the writing, the dialogue is a little overly hard-boiled and characters seem to become mouthpieces for the authors’ opinions sometimes. With the art, it begins strong and matches the tone of the writing with a bleak style. There’s lots of scratchy black lines and closeups. Later on, the panels have a lot of negative space, characters aren’t expressive, and the art ends up looking like it’s trying out things from a Frank Miller or a Robert Kirkman comic. None of these things is a deal-breaker, they just make the comic feel like a first outing.
I don’t think I’ll keep on reading Indoctrinated. Season one of True Detective was enough.
She Wolf (Image Comics)
She Wolf has a lot of promise. From the first few pages, Rich Tomasso crafts the art and story to make you feel like he has something to say and that the story is going to go somewhere. The art has a surreal vibe. There’s usually one or two dominant colours on the page with lots of white filling the spaces. The colours are primary, but pastel. Overall, it’s striking and interesting to look at. Not only that but the artist is the writer, so the images complement the dialogue well.
She Wolf seems to be about a young witch and how an early spell went wrong, changing her life for the worse. It’s set in a high-school and has all the tropes – principal, sibling, guidance person (in this case, Priest). This isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t appeal to me. Doubtlessly it’s going to dive deeper into the realms of magic and transformation, which is interesting. The main problem I had with it was that the comic itself felt a little thin. There literally wasn’t enough plot in the first issue to really hook me.
I don’t think I’ll keep reading, but it’s one that I think will catch on.
What have you been reading this week? Let us know in the comments!
by Nioclas Mac Gerailt