Welcome to another installment of Kabooooom’s comic review round-up! It’s a super mixed bag today with reviews of the kid friendly Captain Ultimate #2, the spy thriller Zero #1 from Image, and X-Men: Legacy #17. Which is worth a read and which isn’t? Read on to find out!
CAPTAIN ULTIMATE #2/ Written by JOEY ESPOSITO & BENJAMIN BAILEY/ Art by BOYKOESH/ Colors by ED RYZOWSKI/ Letters by ADAM PRUETT/ Published by MONKEYBRAIN COMICS
In its first issue, Captain Ultimate set itself up to be a kid friendly, loving homage to Golden Age comics where superheroes were super and the villains were villainous. In this second issue, writers Joey Esposito and Benjamin Bailey continue to bring the fun.
Continuing where last issue left off, the world stands in awe at Captain Ultimate’s return as his once worthless comics are now as much as $50 (that’s a lot of allowance!). But with Ultimate’s comeback comes the return of of his arch villain, Dr. Destruction. Being a hero title, Captain Ultimate appears to fight his long-lost rogue, but it’s not as easy as he remembers. He finds himself struggling to get back into the swing of things, as actions such as stopping a moving roller coaster and lifting a school bus are much harder than he remembers.
Being a kid friendly book, the action doesn’t go much further than a couple of punches and knocks around a carnival, but Boykoesh is able to keep the action coherent and bright with fully illustrated backgrounds. There are also a few cameos within his art that makes for fun easter eggs.
While his art has improved over last issue, besides Captain Ultimate Boykoesh is still struggling with the anatomy of nearly all the characters. Group shots become particular hard to look at as sometimes the child Milo appears to be as tall as his father and mother. Nevertheless, Ed Ryzowski’s colors bring life to Boykoesh pencils, bringing dimension and character to the title. Being a digital only release, these two aspects combined makes the digital reading experience that much better.
This issue also leads readers to a journey into the Fortress of Attitude where the Super Revenging Society are angsting over not being able to monetize on their “heroics.” Esposito and Bailey continue to veil their criticism of modern comics beneath their campy, all-ages humor. Though easy to overlook, for more experienced comic readers it’s worth taking a second to dig a little deeper at their criticism of not only comics, but mainstream media as well.
Captain Ultimate is a must read series for fans of Golden Age camp and introspective comic criticism. At .99 cents, there no excuse not to be reading this book.
ZERO #1 / Written by ALES KOT / Art by MICHAEL WALSH / Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE / Letters by CLAYTON COWLES / Published by IMAGE COMICS
ZERO #1 opens on the White Cliffs of Dover some 25 years in the future. Here we see an old man in a lawn chair being held at gun point by a young boy. The old man says he has a story to tell before he dies and with the turn of a page we’re transported to the slums of The Gaza Strip some 20 years earlier. Here is where our story truly begins as Agent Zero (presumably the old man as a younger man) attempts to steal some advanced bio-technology from the body of an Israeli super-soldier, during the middle of a military conflict.
Whatever else may be said about this book, it does not waste time before throwing the reader into the action. Sadly, it could have used a little more time to develop its world, which thus far seems as bland and inoffensive as its hero. The story portrays Zero as a cypher that has no motivations or drive past completing his current mission for his masters at “The Agency”. Granting that this sort of shallow characterization and unimaginative naming is typical of the genre, it still makes it hard for the reader to become attached to Zero – particularly since we know he’s going to survive the events of this series thanks to the clichéd opening!
The artwork doesn’t do Ales Kot’s story any favors. Michael Walsh’s pencils are reminiscent of John Romita Jr.’s work but Walsh lacks Romita’s passion and this issue lacks any sense of energy as a result. Walsh tries to depict a disturbingly violent running battle yet his figures seem oddly still and posed throughout. The color palette utilized by colorist Jordie Bellaire does a fine job of depicting the dull realities of a war zone but – by that same token – fails to catch the eye of the reader.
In the end, ZERO will only prove to be of interest to enthusiasts of military thrillers and spy stories. Those looking for memorable characters, colorful artwork or any sense of suspense will be sorely disappointed.
X-MEN LEGACY #17 / Written by SIMON SPURRIER/ Art by KHO PHAM/ Colors by RACHELLE ROSENBERG/ Letters by CORY PETIT/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Amidst the recent clutter of X-Men vs. Avengers/Battle of the Atom titles, X-Men Legacy is a bit of a hidden gem. Connected but not consumed by recent X-events, it tells the story of David a.k.a Legion, son of the late Professor Xavier. David could perhaps be one of the most powerful mutants in the world, if not for the fact that his powers come with a myriad of alternate personalities he must keep under control. Legacy follows David as he tries to follow his late father’s example knowing all the while that his powers have made him a ticking time bomb.
One of the nice things about issue 17 is it’s easy to jump right into the story. David, in order to prove himself, has decided to challenge Cyclops to a fistfight – no powers. Through some excellent narration and dialogue the comic manages to juggle their battle, a punk rock commentary on comic book violence, and David’s own inner struggles. What could be just another comic crossover smack down quickly turns personal as David grapples with if he is even worthy to be his father’s successor, whether he wins the fight or not.
Despite having 16 issues of backstory, it’s pretty easy to follow the gist of the main conflict, which is a breath of fresh air when many comics suffer from continuity lockout. All the while, Spurrier weaves his tale with a sense of freshness and honesty that makes David’s story surprisingly relatable and an enjoyable read.
However, despite a strong narrative, Legacy is not without its flaws. Khoi Pham’s art doesn’t quite live up to Spurrier’s narrative. While its gritty and muddy style suits the fight, the artwork can also be muddled and mundane. It’s a bit of a disappointment compared to the sleek, vibrant style of Paul Davidson in previous issues. While arguably, dark and dreary is what the issue calls for, Pham’s art comes off as little doughy when it should be more Fight Club.
Also, for such an exciting narrative the comic ends on a shocking swerve. Within the last two or three pages, a comic that had been relatively easy to follow suddenly becomes very confusing. The twist will make sense for those who have read Legacy thus far, but it’s a bit disappointing to see a coherent comic become confusing or at least dependent on backstory towards the very end.
Regardless, X-Men Legacy proves to be a unique, personal and accessible comic. The artwork may not be perfect, and the ending (seemingly) comes out of nowhere, however neither of these flaws are enough to weaken the story or curiosity for the next issue. For Spurrier’s writing alone, X-Men Legacy #17 is well-worth checking out.