And movies. This week, I propose comics based on properties that come from “moving pictures” media, or in some cases, from comics to TV/movies and back again. I’ve sampled the first issue so you don’t have to buy it blind. Hope this helps.
Star Wars by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday for Marvel. It’s the one you’ve been waiting for! Star Wars returns to Marvel! Well, I don’t know if you’ve been waiting for it THAT much. The halcyon days when Marvel held the license are pretty far back, and many decry its departure from Dark Horse who, it must be said, did solid work on the expanded universe over the last few DECADES. The core series takes place just after A New Hope, with the old gang of rebels on a mission to give the Empire another bloody nose after the destruction of the Death Star. Jason Aaron does his level best to give the comic the same feel as the films, starting with a scrolling recap and dishing out strong action beats, droid humor and other necessities. His banter, especially for the wry Han Solo and the deadpan C-3PO, actually outdoes the film versions. (Let’s just say the dialog was never really the franchise’s strong suit.) As for Cassaday’s art, it does the job in my opinion, and his likenesses are better than most, though it all still smacks of photo referencing, with some awkward postures or expressions forced into the comic book’s action. But the book moves at a good clip, so it’s only the most minor of detractions. I’m not a particular Star Wars fan, but I liked this well enough, and looking ahead, they’ve put Mark Waid on a Princess Leia series, and Kieron Gillen on a Darth Vader project. Those are writers I follow everywhere, so it looks like I’m not just in for a penny, I’m in for a pound!
Recommended? Star Wars fans who have yet to sample their favorite universe in comics form can get in on the ground floor and not be disappointed. The rest of us will find a fun swashbuckling space opera.
Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive by Scott & David Tipton and Rachael Scott for IDW and Boom! The first issue of this mash-up takes its time setting up HOW such a cross-over can happen, with the obligatory briefing room scenes Trek comics seem to thrive on. Thankfully, it’s not all exposition. Uhura and Sulu infiltrating the Klingon capital? Yes please! Basically though, the Tiptons have poached the plot from A Private Little War, and thrown in into another dimension. As usual, these guys know their stuff and show it off with pleasant continuity references. Do they know as much about the Apes universe? We’ll see. There just haven’t been enough apes in it yet. Are these two universes a good match? Well, think of Shatner’s Kirk. Now think of Charlton Heston on the beach in the final moments of the original film. Yeah, I think it could work if they manage that kind of, let’s call it intensity.
Recommended? An amusing idea. Not quite exciting as of the first issue, but Trek/Apes fans – not to say completists – will probably want to see where it goes.
S.H.I.E.L.D. by Mark Waid, Carlos Pacheco, Mariano Taibo and Jason Paz for Marvel. The series that brings certain Agents of SHIELD previously only seen on TV into Marvel’s mainstream comics universe – notably Melinda May, Fitz and Simmons – the first issue is really about Coulson, whose “super-power” is that he’s one of us, i.e. a comic book nerd/expert. He knows everything about his chosen superhero universe, and that’s how he’s going to save the day. In other words, he’s Mark Waid himself. And it’s hilarious. S.H.I.E.L.D. is Waid have a huge amount of fun using the whole of the Marvel Universe as a playground, and each month, some new corner of the MU might be explored or referenced. Coulson and his group are on the margins, attacking the subject matter from a 90 degree angle. In that sense, I was reminded of books like Damage Control and Chase, which I’ve always loved. The second issue, just out, focuses a little more on Simmons, so I imagine they’ll all get a turn, and the art is by Humberto Ramos. Is the art change something we should be worried about? Or is it part of the concept, moving through various art styles as we take this grand tour of the Marvel Universe?
Recommended? A S.H.I.E.L.D. series not dependent on some version of Nick Fury? It’s happened, and it’s good. A very fun book for TV and comics fans alike.
Wonder Woman ’77 by Mark Andreyko and Drew Johnson for DC Digital. DC takes the concept behind Batman ’66 and applies it to the 70s Lynda Carter show, but does that scheme work when the source material isn’t quite as camp and comedic? And does the old Wonder Woman show have enough fans to support such a project for long? First off, let me say Drew Johnson’s likenesses are quite good; that, more than anything, sells this as part of the TV show’s continuity. To get as much nostalgia as they can from the title, they’re playing up 70s pop culture, so the first arc has Diana Prince (in white pant suit, because Andreyko knows his WW history) and Steve go undercover at a disco. Seems dangerously obvious. In the plus side, while the TV show didn’t really feature supervillains, this book seems interested in 70s-ing up some of Diana’s comics rogues gallery, and features an appearance by the Silver Swan. She DOES work in a disco context. While this is available on DC Digital for now, the way the art is laid out tells me it won’t be long until it comes out on printed paper, just as DC’s done with most of its digitals-first.
Recommended? Too early to tell. Not enough happens in the first chapter. It might work purely on the basis of nostalgia, but that’s not enough to sustain it for long.
Hey look, if there’s a series you absolutely NEED me to sample, just say so. I’ll be your huckleberry. (No idea what I just said. Just know it sounds cool when Doc Holliday says it in Tombstone.)
Siskoid used to wear red shirts. Then he saw Star Trek. Now it’s all black or white T’s. For his own safety, you understand.