Welcome again to Kabooooom’s weekly comic review round-up! It’s a collection of first issues this week as Marcus reviews Image’s Reality Check, Matt embraces nostalgia with DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe, and Matthew dives into Boom’s film nor-inspired title, Hit.
REALITY CHECK #1/ Written by GLEN BRUNSWICK/ Art by VIKTOR BOGDONAVIC/ Colors by PAUL LITTLE/ Letters by RUS WOOTEN/ Published by IMAGE COMICS
Review by MARCUS HAMMOND
Every comic book fan has dreamt of their own fantastical world of heroes and villains. It’s what makes many of us obsessed with specific characters and stories. In Reality Check #1, Glen Brunswick takes that concept and provides a sharp, entertaining plot that shows what could happen if our fantasies become realities.
Brunswick’s character development draws the reader into the story from the first page. As a slightly overweight, struggling comic book writer and artist, Willard Penn appears to be having a meltdown. Brunswick, however, opens the issue with only enough intrigue into Willard’s mental state to pull the reader into the bulk of the issue. As Willard’s background is exposed it becomes more and more clear that he is just a regular guy, who loves comics, has artistic talent, a multitude of quirks, and wants to make it big in the industry. This average Joe quality makes Willard likable and relatable.
As Willard’s background and motivations are revealed, so is the story of his hero, Dark Hour. Brunswick shows an entertaining sense of humor as the comic within the comic is developed. Willard is well aware his hero is a carbon copy of Batman, however, Dark Hour is driven on a quest for romance instead of vengeance. Clearly, Brunswick understands the role of a hero archetype and uses humor to establish one of the most formidable ones.
Brunswick’s structuring of the plot enhances the story. By book-ending the main background development with Willard’s breakdown and the subsequent reason for his breakdown, the mystery of the story is emphasized and maintained for future issues.
Bogdonavic’s art and Little’s colors fluctuate between reality and fantasy as Brunswick moves the story between Willard’s life and his comic book. This helps provide the reader with a well employed visual transitioning as Willard’s reality and fantasy come crashing together.
Reality Check #1 excels at everything a story that has one foot in reality and one in the comic book world should. Don’t pass this issue up.
DC UNIVERSE VS. MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #1 / Written by KEITH GIFFEN / Art by DEXTER SOY / Letters by DERON BENNETT / Published by DC COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
Those who purchase DC Universe vs. Masters Of The Universe expecting the epic battle between the Justice League and He-Man’s allies promised on the book’s two alternate covers will be sorely disappointed. The only Justice League members in attendance are two members of Justice League Dark. Of those two, only John Constantine is identified by name for the benefit of those new to the DC Universe and its characters.
Given that, it is unclear precisely what audience this book was aimed at. Typically, a crossover series is meant to attract fans of both franchises with the intent of making the reader a fan of both properties by the story’s conclusion. Yet, this story is largely inaccessible to new readers!
Keith Giffen’s script explains little and is full of many omissions that will do more to confuse new readers rather than entice them to read on. DC Comics fans who only know He-Man and company from the classic cartoons will be confused as to why He-Man’s secret identity is no longer a secret and why Skeletor is trapped on Earth. Classic Masters of the Universe fans will likely be turned off by how dark and serious the story is and how He-Man and his comrades are more hostile and rude to one another than the evil wizard Skeletor is to his lone ally, newbie sorceress Black Alice.
The art by Captain Marvel artist Dexter Soy is competent but it raises as many questions as Giffen’s script. Questions like why do we need to see up Black Alice’s skirt? Is she of legal age in the New 52 universe when she was a minor before? And why does He-Man’s mother, Queen Marlena, look younger than her son? On that note, He-Man purists will wonder why Queen Marlena is depicted as a blonde Dinah Lance look-alike when she’s always been a redhead in other media.
In the end, DC Universe vs. Masters Of The Universe does nothing to recommend itself to anyone who is not already intimately familiar with the New 52 universe in general, Justice League Dark in specific, and the current status quo of Eternia in the current Masters of the Universe comic.
HIT #1/ Written by BRYCE CARLSON/ Art by VANESA DEL RAY/ Colors by ARCHIE VAN BUREN/ Letters by ED DUKESHIRE / Published by BOOM STUDIOS
Review by MATTHEW CHARLES
Hit is at its core a very unique blend of old and new. While it’s too early to tell just how the series will play out, Hit has, more than anything, potential.
Hit tells the story of Henry Slater, a 1950s LA cop. In a decade where crime is running rampant, Slater is part of a hit squad of policemen who execute criminals regardless of the law. This first issue introduces the reader to Henry’s world as he chases down high profile criminals before he quickly finds himself in over his head.
It is immediately apparent this story is a love letter to film noir. You have all the staples: hard-boiled detectives, a femme fatale, and a simple case that is clearly more complicated than it seems. Del Rey’s artwork captures this style perfectly, with high contrast between color and shadow, pragmatic action sequences, and sleek, classy character designs that harken back to films like Double Indemnity or The Maltese Falcon. Bryce Carlson throws in some typical but solidly written dialogue and narration, and the story moves at a streamlined clip. By the end of the first issue, the reader will definitely want to know what happens next.
There are few cracks in the armor though. Sometimes the comic plays its homage to noir a little too straight and falls more into cliché than adaptation. This is mostly reflected in the main character who comes off as a mish-mash of all the classic noir heroes. The comic can also be unnecessarily gruesome, showing a lot more detail to its brutality than is needed.
Despite these flaws, Hit shows the potential to be a great old school detective story.