The Comic Review Round-Up, 11.22.13 Edition

Welcome back to the round-up! This week’s iteration is a mostly Marvel week, with reviews for Avengers #23 and Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe #2, plus a little Image action with Larime Taylors A Voice in the Dark.


A VOICE IN THE DARK #1/ By LARIME TAYLOR / Produced by TOP COW Productions / Published by IMAGE COMICS

A Voice in the darkReview by ERIK RADVON

Let’s get this out of the way up front—- Larime Taylor, the sole creator behind A Voice in the Dark, is disabled. He renders everything in the book from the artwork to the letters by using a Wacom stylus in his mouth. It’s an incredible feat of craftsmanship, but the story of Taylor’s creative process is eclipsed by the shear quality delivered in A Voice in the Dark #1. With strong characters, zippy dialogue, and a confident sense of storytelling, this is a remarkable comic. If you like your graphic storytelling free of capes and powers, you’ve just found the next addition to your pull list.

Taylor calls A Voice in the Dark “a strange little black-and-white book that doesn’t contain a single zombie.” It’s an accurate summary. In lieu of zombies, the story treats readers to an ensemble cast made up of that ever-elusive comic book unicorn: the strong female character. It’s fitting that Strangers in Paradise creator Terry Moore contributes a quote on the cover, as Voice contains a strain of Moore’s dark yet plucky style in its own DNA.

The art is black and white, delivering a look that’s minimal in all the best ways. The focus is solidly on the characters and their expressions, faces, and emotions. There’s a wealth of acting and emoting in the panels.

In short time Taylor draws you into the life of college freshman Zoey Aarons, setting the stage with her friends, family, roommate, and professors in a way that feels fresh and interesting. The book’s title draws from Zoey’s aspirations to host a talk call-in program at her fictional California college radio station (the callers providing the eponymous voices in the dark). She harbors some darkness of her own, however, including an invasive urge to kill that pops up throughout her daily routine in ways both disturbing and hilarious. Yes, Zoey is a young adult struggling to find herself in the world, but she also happens to be a murderer. Somehow, perhaps by faintly borrowing a page from Dexter, she remains a compelling and sympathetic character.

The supporting cast includes Zoey’s friend-turned-sister Seven (it’s wonderfully complicated), punk roommate Ash, and a gaggle of teachers, classmates, cops, parents, and more. Taylor pays just enough attention to each facet of his story, deftly balancing plotlines and tone. This feels like the work of an old pro, not a newcomer. The word auteur comes to mind. There’s a singular vision at work and a tight energy throughout. Whatever’s in store for A Voice in the Dark’s diverse characters, you get the sense it’s going to be good.

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AVENGERS #23/ Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN/ Art by LENIL FRANCIS YU/ Colors by SUNNY GHO & PAUL MOUNTS/ Letters by CORY PETIT/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

a voice in the darkReview by MATTHEW CHARLES

The Infinity Saga has had its twists and turns, but Avenger #23’s installment is pretty straightforward. Thanos has Earth and a doomsday weapon. The Avengers, just done saving the universe, must now save their home turf. Let the smack downs commence.

As fun as it is to have complex, thoughtful, plotlines, every now and again it’s fun just to read a good old fashioned beat down. Hickman makes a mad dash to the Avenger’s battle with Black Dwarf while constantly reminding readers that the best is yet to come. Characters say their goodbyes. Characters give inspirational speeches and reassure each other. Beatdowns and space battles ensue. It all gives the issue a fun, pulpy, space opera feel that makes reading it a treat.

That being said, the best better come soon. While the issue was fun, it and the previous volume consist almost entirely of build up. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s hard to give a solid opinion on some of the content without knowledge of how the final battle with Thanos plays out. The whole issue reads more like a prologue than a chapter. Still, for those late to the Infinity storyline, Avengers #23 is a good place to hop on.

The real selling point is the artwork. Lenil Francis Yu’s art is fantastic. The characters designs are sleek and bold, without getting too bulky and muscle heavy. Every scene has a sketchy quality that gives every scene a feeling of grit. This is especially noticeable in the actions scene, which while stylish still keep a dirty, war-torn feel. Considering Infinity is a cosmic war story? A match made in heaven.

Overall, whether you’ve read Infinity or not, if you’re a Marvel fan, Avengers #23 is a light, entertaining read. It may not be the most intelligent or unique on the stands. It’s definitely pretty fun.

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LONGSHOT SAVES THE MARVEL UNIVERSE #2/ Written by CHRISTOPHER HASTINGS/ Art by JACOPO CAMAGNI/ Colors by MATT MILLA/ Letters by VC’S JOE CARAMAGNA/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

a voice in the darkReview by ANNE MORTENSEN-AGNEW

It seems likely that folks who are already fans of Longshot will get more out of the Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe series than everybody else, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an enjoyable read. Jacopo Camagni and Matt Milla’s great art job is perfectly suited to writer Christioher Hastings’ energy and sense of fun, which is just something the Marvel universe needs right now.

If you don’t know Longshot, you’re going to come away loving him. And what’s not to love? He’s a friendly, good-natured goof who knows just how to press his luck powers to help everyone involved come out on top. In this series he’s pit against the In-Betweener, magically and accidentally altered by Longshot and now seemingly split into two. Co-Starring alongside Longshot this issue are Dr. Strange and Dazzler, and with Strange especially Hastings gets to demonstrate his terrific comedic timing. The dialogue is great, too – it’s fast, fun, funny, and the issue ends with its biggest laugh as the other half of the In-Betweener appears and remarks upon Longshot’s incoming peril with hilariously casual excitement.

Camagni and Milla do a great job on the art, but the most noticeable hiccups come with Wanda Maximoff. Everyone else is drawn so well and so consistently, so why does she have a sort of Generic Olivier Coipel face at one point, and a weirdly cheek-bony one at another? Her faces get stranger in each panel, but at least the rest of the women don’t share Wanda’s problem.

That art issue aside, Longshot #2 is a genuinely enjoyable book. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it knows who its characters are and how they deal with things, and as a result the book is real fun without any hesitation. Fans of Longshot are in for a delight, and if you had never heard of Longshot before now you’ll love it and him, faux-hawk and all.

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