By Jason Latour, Ivan Brandon, Greg Hinkle & Matt Wilson
“The future will always be dark . . . A blank page we fill with aspiration.”
These words greet the reader at the opening of Image’s new series Black Cloud. In one sense they serve as an introspective beginning, as a narrator muses on the nature of storytelling. A story and time are the same as each captivate through the unknown. Suspense over what occurs in the next chapter is no different than anxiety over what might happen on a new day. The best is hoped for, even as the worst is feared. Stories provide a framework for processing these feelings, giving shape to otherwise undefinable internal rumblings. This clash of cheer and dread is elegantly expressed through Ivan Brandon’s script. (Brandon co-plotted the book with Jason Latour). The idea is further elaborated through Greg Hinkle’s riveting artwork. The first page depicts a flame drifting across an empty space. Fire has many connotations ranging from inspiration to destruction, either of which could be gleamed from Hinkle’s atmospheric illustration. This dynamic continues as the perspective pulls back revealing a seemingly pre-historic group sitting around a campfire. The storyteller finishes his tale, slinking off in exasperation before being confronted with an enormous, menacing creature. Hinkle’s art captures the wonder of this moment while still conveying its terror. This ambiance is greatly aided by Matt Wilson’s stellar coloring which lends a crackling energy to the confrontation which follows. It is a deft mixture of idea and spectacle which immediately draws the reader into this new world.
Continue reading Review of Black Cloud #1
Updated: Series promo art is below
Image Comics held their semi-annual Image Expo today in anticipation of Emerald City Comic Con. Highlights below Continue reading Updated: New Image Comics Series Announced From Remender/Opena, Brubaker/Phillips, Hickman, Chaykin & more
by Gilbert Hernandez, Amy Chu, Lauren Beukes, David Halverson, Ivan Brandon, Christopher Mitten, Tara Ford & Tim Fish
Vertigo comics tries their hand again at launching an ongoing anthology series, relaunching the golden age Strange Sports Stories with it’s idea of a modern take on the concept. It’s not the unmitigated disaster that the Vertigo Quarterly was,but it’s not that great either. It should be noted that many of the creators name checked by Vertigo in it’s initial announcement are nowhere to be found here. Besides having Marvel beat them to the punch on CM Punks comics debut, guys like Brian Azzerello, Darick Robertson, Nick Dragotta & Ron Wimberly don’t contribute anything and Paul Pope shows up for just a cover, which while it’s a very good one, fall short of the “stories and art” that was featured prominently in solicitations. And in a way that’s fine; all the aforementioned creative talents could be coming on future issues and the book does have work from Gilbert Hernandez, the problem is that outside of what Gilbert does here, the rest of the contributions are relatively flawed. But let’s start with the good, because Love & Rockets co-creator Gilbert Hernandez does a fantastic short story here about a group of neighborhood kids playing with a ball & Martians that manages to say so much about classicism, the disenfranchisement of indigenous people in western societies & how that extrapolates into sports today in a short amount of pages, that I could easily spend the entire review dissecting it. Not only that but it’s also funny and lively, in other words it’s like all of Gilbert Hernandez’s work, and while I think you’d be better served spending your time and money on his Love & Rockets material as opposed to the few pages he does here, it’s still great stuff. Past that things get a little bit dogdey. The next two stories both focus on the violent aspect of sports solely, like in the first Vertigo Quarterly, Amy Chu continues to show a lack of understanding in nuisance with her prison break dodge ball story while Lauren Beukes & David Halverson make a story about a hockey game that is basically super bloody & gory for the sake of blood & gore before an inexplicable Chuthulu appearance; the end. While the art in both of these efforts is solid, it’s not enough to carry the writing that is devoid of any kind of context or insight to justify it’s existence. It’s connection to sports is tandental at best which would be alright accept it’s called Strange Sports Stories and there is nothing else going on in the work to make it worth reading, it’s just one dopey a to b space prison escape plot with a “twist” ending that is neither surprising, nor does it add anything to the story while the other is a super violent hockey game and then a monster. Drifter writer Ivan Brandon carries out the back end with an interesting comic about a women breaking up with her boyfriend right at the moment that a fiery apacolypse from the sky hit’s New York City. They board a boat for Cuba where it’s still shinning bright and take in a baseball game, it doesn’t make a lot of sense or have much of a point, but it does have real characters and stakes, which makes it far advanced from the two pieced that proceed it in this book. Of course the art looks like manga studio amateur hour because apparently, Vertigo thinks we can’t have nice things. Strange Sports Stories isn’t terrible by any means, but it feels aimless with a surprising lack in quality control. Some part’s of the book are great, some parts are good and some parts just feel tacked on. Moreover think about the last year in sports; the corruption at the Sochi Winter Olympics, Donald Sterling racist phone call, Ray Rice’s domestic abuse scandal and the NFL’s dopey response, the slow dismantling of the fraud that is the student college athletics, Adrian Peterson’s child abuse case, Chevy guy’s “AND STUFF!!!” sweat drenched word vomit during the World Series ect There is more fertile ground here that could make for sports stories that are actually worth reading which is kind of what Gilbert Hernandez or Ivan Brandon is doing in this. The middle is just cheap blood and guts, it’s as dumb as they think the jocks are.
by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein
I have been praising this book from it’s onset and honestly I was going to take a break reviewing it this week. I was under the impression that I have said everything I need to say. I have expressed how it came out of nowhere and really surprised me. I have written two reviews and a few Indubitable Issues to share that I think this book is worthy of your money. So what else is there to say? Well, then I read issue #4 of Drifter and there is no way I’m not writing about it! Issue #4 is the strongest issue so far and one of my favorite books this week.
What makes this issue so good? I’m glad you asked. At the beginning of this series we are dropped onto a planet neither we nor Pollux understands. We slowly start to learn about the strange world as characters and landscapes are revealed. By issue #4 we have started to get a handle on the world we are in and start to wonder when something big is going to happen, then something big happens. The beginning of the issue sees Pollux take a shovel to the face of a decayed type creature I like to call walking dead. This awards Pollux a meeting with the leader of the deathly creatures. Which does so much as put Pollux on their map and these creatures on ours. It was a simple yet great scene where we see that our man Pollux “aint scared of nothin”.
The one things this series has been lacking is a real loveable character. Enter Lima. A young girl who can put a smile on the face of even the toughest ruffians on the planet. She delivers my favorite line of the series so far:
Big – “Mr Emmerich don’t enjoy conversation”
Lima – “How do you know what he likes if he never spoke to you?”
This smart aleck kid is the comedy relief the book was needing. The combination of Lima and Pollux, although they haven’t really interacted yet, is the perfect blend of light hearted and dead serious.
The best part comes in the final scene where it appears it’s hinted at the possibility of another Pollux on the planet. We know his ship crashed landed over a year ago even though he has only been on the planet for a few days, possibly a few weeks now. It makes sense that there could be another Pollux out there, the one that actually landed over a year ago. Whatever the case, it makes the mystery of this planet very exciting.
Looking forward to next month’s issue.
By Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein
I was going to write about how this week’s issue of Drifter takes a break from the adrenaline ride and really starts to set the groundwork for the story. However when I flip through it there is definitely no break in the action. This issue once again is full of intensity in a very dark and grim way. Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein do a great job of making the reader feel slightly confused. It isn’t by having a complex storyline or throwing around a lot of names of characters we have yet to meet. It is the way the story is told. Pollux finds himself crash landed on this unknown planet. With his ship destroyed and his whole world lost forever what is a man suppose to do? The reader gets thrown into Pollux’s head. I feel like the decisions Pollux is making are the ones I’m making too. Everything Pollux learns about the planet and their way of life we are learning for the first time as well and because of this we can put ourselves in his shoes without any effort.
This has become one of my most anticipated Image books each month and I think it is because of this rich planet that Brandon and Klein have created. Each month we explore another aspect of the planet, whether it be the jobs they have or just some new deadly monsters they have to avoid. It is extremely hard these days to come up with anything new, everything has been done before. In Drifter a ship crash lands on a planet, I’ve read this countless times before. However the richness of this world that is being slowly unveiled before my eyes keeps it feeling fresh and new every month. It reminds me of Avatar. Again, Avatar is a story that has been done before, but it isn’t about the story, it is about Pandora the planet that James Cameron created. The same goes for Drifter. I am interested in seeing what happens with Pollux, but above all I just want to see more of this planet. Another great installment.
By Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein
I am sitting here searching for the words to explain this book and the only thing I can come up with is “this book is exceptionally cool”. I am trying to think of something more elegant and display my infinitely deep pool of adjectives. However I don’t think anything describes this book better than simply “this book is exceptionally cool”.
Last issue left off on an interesting cliff hanger. A man crash lands on a strange planet where he promptly gets shot and nursed back to health by the people who live there. They tell him he has been unconscious for a few days. He decides to go out in search of his space craft and he finds it, only to find out that this space craft crash landed over a year ago. That is how issue #1 left us off and issue #2 picks up with a great opening scene. Our man Pollux is arguing with his saviour Carter, trying to convince her this ship is without a doubt his, while she is firmly sticking with that opinion being impossible. As the arguing continues the two are attacked by scavengers of the land. This opening scene is very strong. Strong character development along side a really cool chase/fight. The emotions are running so high in this scene. It is a combination of Pollux deep sadness upon seeing his ship and his obvious confusion as to how it has been here for a year. The man is clearly hurting and broken up, so what would make this scene even better? Make him fight for his life while in this state. In one simple scene two issues into the series we learn so much about our main man. Even though he is coming to the realization that everything he ever loved will never be near him again he bucks up and helps Carter kick some scavenger butt and eventually shows his heroic colours by saving the little town.
This comic provides a very cool and original feeling story of a man who is at the end of his rope, in a strange land, holding on to whatever hope he can muster up. The book also provides a few very interesting mysteries that are setup for a big payoff. I’m fully on board with Drifter. If you like sci-fi books you have to check this one out.
By Ivan Brandon, Nic Klien
Story: A spaceship, piloted by Abram Pollux, is about to crash on Ouro. Pollux ponders if these is his sins catching up to him. He escapes death three times this issue; once by surviving the crash, two by swimming out of the wreckage, and the final time being shoot by a mysterious stranger on the surface. He awakens a few days later in Ghost Town, in the clinic run the town sheriff Lee Carter. The town preacher calls his recovery a miracle, and the two go to the town bar. There, Pollux sees the man who shoot him and chases him out of town into the mountains. The sheriff Carter catches up to him, and asks him how he wound up on Ouro. He takes her to the site his ship crashed in, to which Lee tells him has been there for a year.
The Art: It is gorgeous, an equal mix of Shawn Crystal and Matteo Scalera. There is a since of rustic beauty to Ghost Town, and majesty in the mountain ranges. Pollux himself bares a passing resemblance in personality and dress to Han Solo, without looking like an exact copy. There are some great panels just showing the expressions of the characters interacting, and there are no short-cuts taken in designs of the characters or environments.
Overall: A solid introductory issue. Pollux could use some more background information, and Ghost Town more defining traits. Image seems to be cornering the market on Sci-Fi books; this year alone at least 6 other Sci-Fi series have begun. For this series to stand out, it will need to do more. Abram Pollux is like Han Solo, there are blue amphibious aliens on Ouro, Ghost Town is full of outlaws in the Frontiers of Space; none of this is very original. If this series wants to stand out, it needs more defined characters or a more interesting premise. The mystery of Pollux’s lost year of existence probably won’t be enough to sustain this book. Besides the art, not much else compels me to buy the next issue.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent