Eclipse (Image / Top Cow) #1-4
Zack Kaplan - writer
Giovanni Timpano - artist
For a newcomer, Zack Kaplan doesn’t waste any time. Within the first four issue story arc, Kaplan’s got me hooked. The premise of Eclipse is fairly simple but with artist Giovanni Timpano, they quickly drop you into this post-global warming hell-scape that Earth has turned into. Oddly, Pitch Black has been on TV a lot lately and the basic premise of Eclipse reminds me of the failed idea of its sequel, Chronicles of Riddick which the sun is so dangerous everyone must find safety underground or at least in a secured covering during the day otherwise you’ll burn instantly.
Instead of a convoluted (and poorly executed) attempt at a space opera, Kaplan uses this idea as a backdrop for a murder mystery. Sprinkle in a little bit of a political thriller and you’ve got Eclipse. Our main character is straight out of the Bruce Willis hero text book. Put John McClane into an Armageddon spacesuit and you’ve got our hero.
Add in the sci-fi element of our possible mystery villain who seems to be able to walk freely around during the flesh melting daylight, we’re ticking all the boxes. There’s a chase scene, a fight, an assassination attempt, a damsel in distress, a rescue… you’ve got it all. Again, this is all happening over the course of just four issues. Trust me when I say, it all works. I’m ready for the next arc and hopefully a little slower pace, even for one issue, so we can get more exposition on the world and the characters.
The main thing I look for, especially with indy titles, is am I having fun reading this. If you can take a brand new world, with new characters and have fun… you’ve got yourself a successful comic. This is another BUY and Kaplan is a creator to watch.
Black Hammer (Dark Horse) #1-6
Jeff Lemire - writer
Dean Ormston - artist
Dave Stewart - colorist
Have you ever wondered what happened to a team of superheroes after an epic universe saving event? What if the Justice League saved the world but was lost to a different reality? Black Hammer tells the tale of a group of heroes lost with no way to return home after saving billions of lives.
Or so we are to believe…
Jeff Lemire (w) is telling a tale that could be a straight forward “fish out of water” take on a lost super team but my guess is that we’ve got a long way to go. Not every hero that is lost seems to be cut from the Joseph Campbell hero’s journey. Dean Ormston (a) and Dave Stewart’s (c) art sets just the right tone for a twist or two. Everything about this book is off, just by a little bit, which I mean in a good way. It seems that every “hero” has a secret or something to hide from their fellow castaways. Some seem down right crazy and even until…well… they don’t. With all this subterfuge we’re still learning key plot points and characteristics of each member. Even the titular “character” Black Hammer is barely shown through the first six issues. When we do get glimpses of their home world, the picture of who’s good and who may be evil becomes even less clear.
Lemire seems to be the guy who replaces “the guy” after a strong run on a series at Marvel (All-New Hawkeye / Old Man Logan / Moon Knight / Thanos) and DC (Animal Man / Justice League Dark / Green Arrow). So far, Lemire continues if not surpasses the books he takes over. His slow burn styles seems perfect for a crazy superhero mystery box series.
Buy this book. It’s an interesting story. Even though the first arc is a tiny bit slow to unravel, it’s only because Lemire gives each character their chance to be weird and for the audience to get hooked in. The story never bogs down and as soon as each issue was done, I was ready for the next one.
- Secret Wars tie-in
Jason Aaron - writer
Mike Del Mundo - artist
- Trade #1
Sam Humphries - writer
Mike Del Mundo - artist
Two Trades, two totally crazy books. The first reason to pick up these Trade Paperbacks is the art. Del Mundo is one of the best cover artist over the last few years. Now you get him for 12 full issues!
Del Mundo’s art is the only thing that connects the two books. There are a few small connections and references that carry over from one book to the next but nothing of significance. In fact, the second book stands alone better due to not being beholden to any other Marvel story AND just being batshit crazy. While the first book is slightly better written and does reference the Secret Wars event that would eventually reboot the Marvel Universe, I enjoyed the second book more as a standalone story.
Jason Aaron writes the first trade like an informal nod to a Marvel version of the Twilight Zone. There are twists and turns and it’s not until the end when everything comes together and you realize what’s going on.
In the second Trade, Sam Humphries takes you on a completely wild ride around this crazy world. What if I told you that the last chapter even contained homage to an old Tribe Called Quest song and album cover, and that would be the least “weird” thing that went on in this book? Even as I describe the madness of this book, the second Trade is a more conventional story. A girl finds herself lost in this world, she goes on a path to find home, gains friends and foes and the story concludes with a battle. Imagine Wizard of Oz on acid.
Both are definite reads. Marvel cancelled the regular book but the initial story wraps up cleanly. This is the kind of book that would have been a risk for Marvel to keep printing but done as an anthology series in which a new writer and artist could play in this sandbox for a six issue run would have been a fun ongoing series. Alas, it was not meant to be. But being a Marvel property for about 40 years, I wouldn’t count out a return by a new creator at some point.
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