ROGUE & GAMBIT #2 (of 5)/ Written by KELLY THOMPSON/ Art by PERE PEREZ/ Colors by FRANK D’ARMATA/ Letters by VC’s JOE CARAMAGNA/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Review by SARAH MORAN
The first issue of this mini-series was an absolute delight, capturing the fiery spirit of the two X-Men’s enduring if tumultuous love affair. Rogue & Gambit #2 is where the story really begins picking up steam – or better yet, where the story starts to get steamy.
If the first issue was all about setting the stage, then this book is where Thompson begins exploring the first act of Rogue and Gambit’s decades long relationship. Here, the bulk of story digs into their very first meeting, with Rogue and Gambit swapping versions of that fabled moment and reflecting on what it means for their future together (assuming they can even have one). Similar to the first issue, Rogue & Gambit #2 is more interested in its characters than the larger mystery of the mission at hand, but then, that’s surely what readers picking up a book titled Rogue & Gambit are looking for, right? That said, there is at least a hint of where this story is going and the introduction of the villain, so important pieces are being set up.
The artwork by Perez and D’Armata continues to be strong and it’s great fun seeing those classic costumes again. In particular, Perez is able to express such attitude through his linework and with these characters, well, there’s a lot of attitude. The colors from D’Armata match this beat for beat, heightening the emotion as these two mutants edge ever closer to each other.
SWAMP THING WINTER SPECIAL #1/ Written by TOM KING & LEN WEIN/ Art by JASON FABOK & KELLEY JONES/ Colors by BRAD ANDERSON & MICHELLE MADSEN/ Letters by DERON BENNETT/ Published by DC COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
Crafted as a tribute to both Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson – two creators who will be forever associated with Swamp Thing – this Winter Special is worthy of the name. Tom King’s opening story with Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson and Deron Bennett is a worthy tribute, spinning a tale of Swamp Thing’s efforts to fight a snow monster and protect a young boy even as he battles through an endless winter. The book’s second story – the last thing Len Wein ever plotted – is presented with Kelley Jones haunting artwork and Michelle Madsen’s colors but no dialogue, as Wein died before writing it. The tale is spooky enough, even ignoring the title – The Dead Don’t Sleep. It’s quite a note to go out on though, and well worth the reading. If you’re any kind of Swamp Thing fan or enjoyed any of Wein’s work over the years (and if you’re any kind of comic reader, you SHOULD have, even if you didn’t know it), you should check this book out for that reason alone.
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE: 1923 #1/ Written by KIERON GILLEN/ Art by AUD KOCH/ Letters by CLAYTON COWLES/ Published by IMAGE COMICS
Review by SARAH MORAN
The Wicked + The Divine is a strange and dense series, but this latest one-shot may just be the strangest and densest story yet. The premise of the main series as well as these one-shots is this: “Every ninety years twelve gods return as young people. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are all dead.” Now, over the course of WicDiv‘s 33 issues it’s become more convoluted than simply that and the mystery surrounding why these gods’ return, how the young people are chosen, and why two years later they die is still unraveling. But, even knowing only those bare details, The Wicked + The Divine: 1923 can be enjoyed by anyone intrigued at the idea of ancients gods masquerading as 1920s vaudevillians, poets, and artists who find themselves embroiled in a murder mystery à la Agatha Christie.
WicDiv: 1923 is an interesting comic in that it’s part comic book – the panels, illustrations, speech bubbles, etc. – and part short story presented as two columns of text on each page. As I mentioned above, the story being told her is very dense and Gillen needs the prose in order to tell his tale in the allotted pages. And it’s a fascinating mystery that’s interesting in its own right, but it becomes even more so when considered alongside the main WicDiv series as there are some notable and intriguing parallels. With less pages given to the artwork than is typical, Koch’s illustrations come in only at significant points in the story, shining a light on specific deeds being done as well as those doing them. Koch’s linework is less meticulous than WicDiv‘s Jamie McKelvie, but the angular designs and especially the sepia tones give the artwork a dated feel that fits the period setting. And of course, bright red blood does just pop better against muted browns and blacks.