The Round-Up, 7.18.12 Edition

Welcome to The Round-Up! This week, we kick things off with Sarah Moran’s take on Saga #5.

*****

SAGA #5 / Written by BRIAN K. VAUGHAN / Art by FIONA STAPLES / Published by IMAGE COMICS
Review by SARAH MORAN

Only five issues in and Saga is already one of my favorite books. Every character, every place in Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ insanely-bizarre and wonderful space opera is realized so impeccably. The whole world feels real and the characters are already as familiar as old friends.

In this issue we see new sides of characters, allowing them even more growth, and everyone is painted in shades of grey. Prince Robot IV’s happiness when he learns, while on the crapper mind you, that his wife is pregnant is a joyful and certainly human moment for the villainous robot. Marko’s ferocity and ruthlessness when he retaliates against the wing soldiers for shooting Alana make it clear why Marko tries to be so steadfast in his pacifism.

Finally, there’s The Will and his vain attempt at rescuing the young slave girl from Sextillion. It’s unclear why he does this, other than I suppose to prove he’s a rogue with a heart. It’s the weakest of these three character reveals, but his desperation in trying to do the right thing is touching. And of course, the fallout from the last page will cause him even more grief and growth. The Will may yet prove to be one of the most interesting characters from Vaughan’s stable of interesting characters.

Do I really need to even emphasize how gorgeous Saga is? Staples’ artwork speaks for itself. It’s so damn expressive that the meaning of what’s happening on page would come through even without words. For instance, when Marko loses it and goes berserk on the soldiers no dialogue is needed, his transformation, his rage is all understood through the art.

I don’t know what else can be said, if you’re not reading Saga you’re depriving yourself of one of the most exciting, riveting and sincere comics around.

READ

THE ACTIVITY #7 / Written by NATHAN EDMONSON / Art by MITCH GERADS / Published by IMAGE COMICS
Review by DANIEL COLE

If you feel like you’ve seen this before, that’s because you probably have. This issue plays out like a cross between Call Of Duty and a multitude of TV shows about terrorism. This isn’t a major problem as a lot of ideas are rehashed and presented differently. However, it doesn’t feel like there is anything fresh or interesting about Nathan Edmondson’s script.

Despite the script’s shortcomings, Mitch Gerads’ art does capture the dark and gritty tones of the computer game franchise this issue resembles. Even slotting in a nice first person perspective panel. But his character work is lifeless, which is a shame as the issue’s milieu is spot on. The guns, ships and helicopters have a great sense of realism and this adds to the generally interesting visuals.

The minor joke of giving everyone comic book character names falls flat after the third sound-off. The obligatory briefing scene feels like it is just going through the motions. There are some character moments, but they don’t really shine through. In fact, the cast seems to melt away as the plot moves on. And The Goat scenes are fun and playful, but don’t lift the book past average.

This is a good-looking book that lacks an interesting script. As a homage to Call of Duty it works, but as a piece of entertainment, it will fail to capture your attention.

DON’T READ

BATWOMAN #11 / Written by J.H. WILLIAMS III & W. HADEN BLACKMAN / Art by TREVOR McCARTHY / Published by DC COMICS
Review by KHALIL SCHWEITZER

This issue concludes the somewhat inconsistent arc “To Drown the World” in a way that luckily succeeds more than it falters.

Batwoman has always been a character who excels in the paranormal; in fact it is this aspect that makes her case as an additional member of the Bat-Family so compelling. This issue tries its best to wrap up some of the arcs strange fantastical aspects but seems to get caught up in “strange for the sake of strange.” While intrigue is abundant in the issue, too many questions are left unanswered. This can leave one feeling incomplete upon finishing the issue.

Trevor McCarthy’s art in the issue looks great but J.H. Williams III seems to just be too hard of an act to follow. It’s not that McCarthy’s art is at all bad, but like a Red Hot Chili Peppers album without John Frusciante, Batwoman just doesn’t feel complete without Williams’ eccentric page layouts and bleeding action scenes.

Viewed as part of a whole arc this issue may prove it’s worth as a necessary chapter, but at this point it appears to just be a placeholder until we get back to the primary creative team on the book.

DON’T READ

Fatima: The Blood Spinners #2 / Written by GILBERT HERNANDEZ / Art by GILBERT HERNANDEZ / Published by DARK HORSE COMICS
Review by DANIEL COLE

What happens when you merge zombies, tiny waists, big lips and a lack of trousers?

The answer is one of the most ridiculously entertaining comics around. Gilbert Hernandez’s Fatima is the perfect kind of oddity. Its camp and gory, but at the same time the narrative includes dynamic characters and intrigue. The black and white illustrations only help show how much this title stands out in the crowded comics market.

The art is almost too simplistic, but alongside the narrative it really works. It allows the book to be humorous, even if we laugh at the most inappropriate moments. Moments that in other comics would be dealt with seriously are dealt with differently here. Be it Fatima having a moment with love interest Jody whilst both of them wear their ridiculous uniforms or when a large-breasted woman is put in the foreground of a group of panicked civilians.

Hernandez’s script fills us in on the history of the drug Spin, the motives of the company Fatima works for and puts our heroine into the future. It is surprisingly more complex than you’d expect from the art. It isn’t a labyrinthine tale but it does entertain, which is surprising for yet another zombie story. This is probably due to Fatima herself as she is a compelling protagonist that seems at home with the crazy world Hernandez has created.

This is definitely a cure for anyone who is getting sick of the over-stylized reality of superheroes and it might just surprise those cynics who look at its zombie infested pages with a sneer.

READ

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