ASCENDER #1 & MORE! [Mini-Reviews]

Ascender #1 CoverASCENDER #1/ Words by JEFF LEMIRE/ Art by DUSTIN NGUYEN/ Letters & Design by STEVE WANDS/ Published by IMAGE COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

It has been ten years since the fall of the United Galactic Council, when machinery failed and magic returned to the universe. Now, the vampiric witch known only as Mother rules over what remains of a once mighty intergalactic empire. And in the woods on one remote planet, a young girl looks up to the skies and dreams of the days of old when starships and robots were real.

The fantasy-themed sequel to Lemire and Nguyen’s stunning series Descender, Ascender appears to be cut from the same genre-defying cloth.  The usual fantasy tropes are already visible (a young child dreaming of something bigger, an over-protective father, a wicked witch, etc.) but Lemire’s writing already defies convention with the concept of a magical world that is the post-apocalyptic result of a science-fiction universe’s collapse. We can expect the usual cliches to be twisted, if this series is anything like Descender but that knowledge won’t lessen the impact of the shocking twists that are sure to come. And Nguyen’s artwork, as fine and ethereal as ever, seems even more suited to the new setting.

The series’ only flaw, as with Descender, is that it is so slow-paced. Granting that this is an introductory issue, there isn’t much here besides exposition. This is what ultimately led to my dropping this series as a monthly purchase and waiting for the trades, as I personally found Descender to be more enjoyable as a graphic novel than a periodical. Still, for those who are patient, this promises to be a phenomenal follow-up.

4-5

 

Fantastic Four #9 CoverFANTASTIC FOUR #9/ Story by DAN SLOTT/ Art by AARON KUDER, STEFANO CASELLI & PACO MEDINA/ Colors by ERICK ARCINIEGA/ Letters by VC’S JOE CARAMAGNA/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

The Fantastic Four are free of Doctor Doom’s ultimate deathtraps, but they still have the problem of escaping from Castle Doom and releasing an imprisoned Galactus before the Power Cosmic destroys the world.

The best thing that can be said about Slott’s run on Fantastic Four is he does have a solid grasp on the character’s voices and he does treat Doom like the serious threat he should be. Unfortunately, his stories leave a lot to be desired and the resolution here is haphazardly executed and rushed, with our heroes ultimately winning through sheer luck rather than skill. It may be nit-picking, but that bothers me a bit on a book like Fantastic Four.

What is not nit-picking, however, is pointing out how equally haphazard the artwork is. The style shifts like Reed Richard’s limbs between three artists and there’s not much in the way of visual consistency. Muddy and muddled, this series needs a single solid artist working with Slott, who can put their aesthetic stamp on this in the same way as past Fantastic Four artists. In the end, this is a decent comic book, but it is hardly fantastic.

3-5

 

The Flash #69 CoverTHE FLASH #69/ Story by JOSHUA WILLIAMSON/ Art by SCOTT KOLINS/ Colors by LUIS GUERRERO/ Letters by STEVE WANDS/ Published by DC COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

With James Jesse tapping into the psychic Sage Force and The Flash left without a leg to stand on (literally!), it seems that The Trickster has pulled off his greatest con-game yet. With the rest of The Rogues running wild around Central City and his every ally elsewhere, can Barry Allen find a way to turn the tables?

I’m trying not to let my fondness for James Jesse color my reaction to this book, wonderful though it is to see my favorite Flash villain restored to his proper place among the A-list of Barry Allen’s greatest enemies. Even ignoring that, this is a wonderful comic, well-written by Joshua Williamson and perfectly illustrated by Scott Kolins. If you aren’t a fan of The Trickster, you may well become one by the end of this issue. And if you are a fan of the Trickster… well, James is back in all his glory and the trick in this episode will also be a treat.

5-5

 

WONDER WOMAN #69/ Story by G. WILLOW WILSON/ Art by XERMANICO/ Colors by ROMULO FAJARDO JR./ Letters by PAT BROSSEAU/ Published by DC COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

Love is in the air in Summergrove, Connecticut as an entire town is seized with the desire to follow their heart’s desire… even if it means breaking up marriages, losing jobs or being generally irresponsible. Can Diana and Aphrodite figure out what’s going on before someone pays the price for all the free love?

G. Willow Wilson’s run on Wonder Woman flew under my radar starting out, as it seemed poised to continue the incredibly boring (to me anyway) story involving a reborn Darkseid, a connection between the New Gods and the Greek Gods and generally ignoring the far more interesting ideas Greg Rucka introduced in his all-too-brief run when DC Rebirth began.  Thankfully, Wilson seems to have finally come into her own ideas and her conceit of the Greek Gods being reborn on Earth with varying disasters coming about because of it is a solid challenge worth of the mythic scope of Wonder Woman. The artwork by Xermanico is equally inspiring, particularly when finished by the colors of Romulo Fajardo Jr. and the letters of Pat Brosseau. If you haven’t been reading Wonder Woman, this is the place to start.

5-5

About Matt Morrison

Matt "Starman" Morrison is The Grand Exalted High Macha of Raspur - a non-existent but real-sounding country. He has been writing about comics since before the word "blogging" was coined. He enjoys acting, role-playing, movie-riffing and sarcasm. You can follow his adventures on Twitter, @GeekyGeekyWays.

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