Indie Wednesday!

Warning: Potential Spoilers

To start with, yes. There is a lot of good to like about this latest story from the Tipton boys, whose Star Trek comics creds are numerous. It’s safe to say these guys know Trek. But I need to get the negatives out of the way.

A publisher has the right to watermark their copyrighted material, and most do. And so, as a reviewer, I am given access to review copies. I feel that a review copy should be a publisher’s absolute best work. If they want positive reviews they should be giving us their best. And, yeah. Maybe they are. But there’s a problem with reviewing a review copy that’s been watermarked. Often, the watermark is obstructive.

Some publishers watermark their trademarked and copyrighted material in a way so as to not hinder the reviewer’s reading experience. If a reviewer has a negative experience reading the publisher’s work, more likely than not that experience will carry over into the review itself.

And here were are!

IDW’s watermark is so large it covers much of the page, and makes it difficult to read the captions and the balloons. Further, it takes away from the artist. In this case, on page 1 (page 6 of the review copy) there are open captions superimposed over the art. In print, without the watermark, this will not be a problem. But for story review purposes this is indeed a problem. If I can’t read the work I have no idea what’s going on. More: on page 14 (of the review copy) there is a fantastic action scene in which bodies are being sucked out into space. It’s a great scene that is ruined by the giant watermark covering the artist’s great work.

So that negative is on IDW. The other negatives are on the writers.

I have no complaints over their knowledge of Trek. It’s perfectly smooth with the continuity of the ST: OS and ST: TNG universe. In fact, despite its flaws, it’s a very enjoyable story and I look forward to its continuation and conclusion.

No, the problem I have with it is that the script is written poorly, which the publisher actually shows off in the back pages. Page 1 (again!) boasts three captions (paragraphs) starting with the word “but”. Imagine your high school English teacher grading this.

Okay, so that’s a nit-pick that others may not find distracting, if they notice it at all. Well, on page 14 (yes, again!) a word balloon for Data has him saying, “Explosive decompression achieved. Reading no life signs remaining aboard the Cardassian Vessel.” Yes, that makes sense after the Stargazer’s brutal attack. But in the first panel of page 15, Deana suggests, “Captain, perhaps we should secure the survivors for intelligence purposes?” Now, you would think Picard should say, “What survivors?” But, no. He thinks it’s a rather good idea, and we’re given to believe that the term “no life signs” only applies when scanning a vessel and not the immediate space around it, where “survivors” may be floating, thankful they’re still alive.

It’s that kind of writing I judge as “poor”.

However!

I did say there is a lot I like about this. It’s the kind of story we should have gotten as a Next Generation movie instead of some of their later ventures.

Let me try to summarize this: In the Mirror Mirror universe Picard is Captain of the Stargazer. Under his command are his Inquisitor Deana Troi and Commander Data, who has interchangeable weaponized parts (pretty cool). Barclay’s also onboard, and he’s always a fun character to throw in. When the Stargazer apprehends a Cardassian vessel they haul it back to Mars to collect a sort of bounty, and that’s when Data (at Picrd’s behest to take more initiative) hacks the system and discovers that rumors of a new Imperial warship that could turn the tide in the war against the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance are true. And so, they reach out to a frustrated engineer working on the project, one Geordi La Forge, and enlist his aid in stealing… wait for it… The Enterprise! *dramatic music*

So, yeah. This is a great story with plenty of Easter eggs thrown in for fan service. See? Not all negative.

I didn’t mention the art by J.K. Woodward. I guess I didn’t have anything negative to write about, other than that annoying watermark stamped all over Woodward’s work.


Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken #1

Publisher: IDW

Writers: David and Scott Tipton

Artist: J.K. Woodward

Lettering: AndWorld Design

Reviewed by: David Paul

Summary: The Star Trek mini-series event of the year kicks off! Captain Jean-Luc Picard will stop at nothing to get his hands on the Empire’s newest warship, the ISS Enterprise, be it lies, deception…or murder. With enemies and allies around every corner, Picard’s quest to help the Enterprise and restore the Empire to glory will not be an easy one. Good thing he has a crew onboard who will also stop at nothing to ensure total victory — at any cost.


Smoketown #2
Scout Comics 2017
Written by: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Illustrated by: Scott Van Domelen
Coloured & Lettered by: Dustin Mollick

Reviewer: Steven Leitman

Summary: When Dale’s high school idol Marcus comes home from Afghanistan, he finds that Marcus’ wartime experiences have left him unrecognizable… and dangerous. When Marcus’ volatile new behavior culminates in a brutal assault, Dale has to defuse the situation before people are killed. Smoketown revolves around an American soldier in the days leading up to his murder. Each chapter reveals a new facet of that soldier’s life as he unravels, exposing another criminal or desperate element of his supposedly quiet Pennsylvania town.

Well sometimes you just don’t know what to expect so you go with it until ya figure it out. I will say this much Phillip manages to really get into the mind of a soldier returning home and bringing his experience to us the reader in a way that’s powerful. We all have heard War changes you but I don’t think we think about that too much, if you’ve never been it’s hard to fully understand even if you’ve got a spouse or loved one who went. So that he manages to give us this amazing glimpse into the mind of Marcus, what he’s experiencing as he comes home from war and what’s he facing well damn.

All throughout this issue we see the emotional struggle of seeing what happened over there compared to what’s happening here. How hanging out with friends and hearing their trivial concerns and thoughts and how they can grate on his nerves to the point we see. There’s so much going on here that you just kind of take for granted. From seeing his wife and meeting his baby for the first time all the while he’s seeing the local woman he had an affair with and her son whom he came to think of as his own. It’s strong, easy to see and understand and just plain good old fashioned writing. Not the affair part but how he’s able to demonstrate the effects of war on those of us who would otherwise have no clue. Now I’m not sure if Phillip served or what kind of research was done but it was extremely effective.

Scott and Dustin do some astounding work here. The tension and downright creepiness they are able to bring to the story to enhance what’s happening here is amazing to see. Yeah it’s got some great traditional looking comic book style going on but as we see characters changing or how they are seen through Marcus’ mind it becomes so much more than we bargained for. The utilisation of the page layouts with their angles, perspective and even strategic use of backgrounds keep us in the story, help the flow and make this as strong as it can possibly get.

You wouldn’t think that a story like this would be able to capture the attention but it does. It’s also not alone because what happens at war has a habit of spilling over into your home life. Nightmares, trouble readjusting, violent tendencies and the visions that just won’t subside all cause Marcus to do and behave in ways that he normally wouldn’t. What we see here and the offer he gets, from his old job back to a new one that needs to be seen to be understood, and his best friends guidance and confidence in all things will surprise you.

I love the twists and turns throughout the storytelling here. Phillip’s ability to structure the way the story unfolds, the pacing and the sheer amount of incredible characterisation make this one that you’ll be unlikely to forget anytime soon. It’s got the raw emotion that touches the soul mixed with the horrors of man’s own imagination and mind that will leave you awake at night wondering why we go to war to begin with.

Editor’s Note: Interested in checking this title out? Along with its first issue? Head here!


Raising Dion: Light Rays #1
Self Published
Writer: Dennis Liu
Art and Letters: Jason Piperberg
Reviewer: Rob Wrecks

Summary: Nicole, raises her 7 year old son, Dion, who has superpowers. Life was hard enough keeping up with the bills, let alone trying to keep track of her son’s invisibility, plasma powers, and telekinesis. In order to study his progress, Nicole films her son 24/7 with the help of her friend, Pat, who is an aspiring filmmaker. But when Nicole starts to notice mysterious men tailing her, and with Dion’s developing abilities constantly changing and becoming more powerful and possibly evil, she must find the courage deep within herself that she can raise Dion on her own.

I basically have Brian L. Hawkins to thank for turning me on to this thanks to a post of his on Facebook recently. While this is an origin story for the most part, I still like the fact that the lead character is a single black mother who’s son has some special abilities. A concept you don’t necessarily see all that often and the last time I did was over in Dynagirl from Red Handed Studios. I love the fact that Nicole is so encouraging of her son while ensuring Dion’s a bit on the grounded side so that the powers don’t go to his head. Especially since they tend to grow and change as he ages! I love that Dennis Liu and Jason Piperberg didn’t give Nicole the looks of a super hot sexy chick with a big chest. But instead, made her look beautiful but not going over board with it. The kind of woman you would probably meet in a grocery store or some such like that and maybe even have a good laugh or two with. Especially since Nicole seems like a fun loving person judging by her wit and apparent willingness to have fun when someone’s trying to be serious about something. Such as Mark Warren and his friend Pat, both of whom love making movies any chance they get. Probably a pair of dudes who could be found on Youtube for that matter!

Mark and Pat are people I probably wouldn’t mind hanging out with since they seem like they would be a lot of fun to be around. The fact neither got bent out of shape over Nicole’s antics is a nice sign of that. Of course, it seems Mark see’s that as a challenge of some kind since he’ll give as good as he can with her! And as part of the origin Nicole tells us, we get to see snippets of her growing relationship with Mark, which to me is done really well so kudos to Dennis for writing that so well and kudos to Jason for bringing it to life as good as he did with his art and colors. (Assuming that he did the colors as well) Naturally, the good times don’t last forever thanks to some oddball light show that happens near our love birds when they are out at some cabin a year later. Darn random mysterious lights! Its clear to see that despite the amount of time they’ve been together, Nicole’s the more practical one out of the two of them! Pity Mark didn’t really listen to her! But if he had, we wouldn’t really have much of a story then now would we? We also get to see a little of what that light did to Mark, which his son clearly inherited later on.

The fact Dennis leaves us with a cliffhanger with both Mark and Nicole having something to tell the other is horrible. Absolutely horrible. But a great way none the less to definitely draw in those read this (including me) for the next issue. Which is hopefully soon since its been sometime since this came out! I know I especially want to see where things go after this issue and how Pat gets a bit involved since it was mentioned he helps Nicole out with Dion by making videos about him. Something that could lead to problems for sure if found by the wrong people! I know one thing though, with a momma like Nicole, Dion’s gonna be one heck of a hero if that’s what he decides to do with his life when he’s older! So Dennis, let’s bring on the next issue! And soon!

Editor’s Note: Head here for all things Raising Dion!


Action Man: Revolution #1 (2016)
‘Revolution’ Tie-In
IDW Publishing
Writer: John Barber
Illustrators: Paolo Villanelli
Colorist: John-Paul Bove
Letterers: Neil Uyetake
Reviewer: Derrick Crow

Summary: REVOLUTION WORLDWIDE! While the battle between TRANSFORMERS, G.I. JOE, M.A.S.K., and ROM rages across the Earth, the U.K.’s top field agent, ACTION MAN, tracks down the mystery of ORE-13—and finds an unusual metal ally!

[[SPOILERS!!]]

Revolution seems to be in full swing as the original creators behind the original Action Man mini-series return to tell the story of the day Action Man became friends with an Autobot. A one-shot that serves to tell a story that I assume was set up in the original event book, we get key roles from various G.I. Joe characters, M.A.S.K. characters, the Action Man cast returns, and a few Transformers for good measure. Most notably we get to focus a bit on Kup this issue.

Honestly… this wasn’t good. I don’t know if I’d call it worse than the final issue of the original Action Man mini-series but as a single story, a self-contained story and one unfortunately tied to a bigger event this is not good and very difficult to follow. Though the book does go through pains to let us know exactly who all we’re dealing with in the enormous cast of characters in this issue, I still found it incredibly hard to follow.

This is one of those tie-ins that, unless you’re reading the actual event it spun out of, you’re probably not going to get it. The cast is simply too big and constantly rotating each panel that unless you’re more familiar with the different other books these characters belong to you’re still going to have a hard time keeping track of who is who.

Most, in fact, are completely unnecessary for this story and it’s such as a shame as a story bringing together such massive 80s nostalgia heavy hitters should at the very least provide some great fanservice, and at best provide an epic story that sees all these people interacting.

There’s not even any good fanservice. Just seeing these characters on the page is not enough in my opinion and because there’s so many heads floating around the story, in my opinion, loses its focus on Action Man and this very much becomes more of a story about G.I. Joe and M.A.S.K. and what I perceive to be a growing rift between the two. Again, I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on in the end with those two teams.

Now, everything with Action Man himself and Kup weren’t that bad. At least Action Man feels exactly like his character in the mini-series I just finished reading and honestly seeing him interact with Kup is probably the only good fanservice this book had. As to backpetal on an earlier statement, there was at least that good fanservice.

The two sort of have a movie version Bumblebee/Sam Witwicky relationship going on – whom, might I add is in this book, Witwicky that is. And he’s a total idiot in my opinion. Unfortunately I just don’t care enough to read any more of Revolution to find out where their relationship goes from here.

I honestly just wish Action Man the series could have continued and let the first two arcs of the comic be Revolution tie-ins ad then just keep the story running. I don’t know what part the new Doctor X plays in the event, but I assume she’s still out there so that a new ongoing an go into print soon?

I did like the art in this comic quite a bit. Just like his role in the original mini-series, Paolo Villanelli is one of the best parts of the book. I love his art style and could look at it all day. Hopefully if IDW does plans to bring back the Action Man comic they can get him to return.

Action Man: Revolution #1 is not a fun book and instead opts to be a quite confusing one which is a bummer because of all the cool factors that should, by all accounts, have been the backbone of this very story. You got so many awesome characters to work with and are now existing in a single universe together, but if you can’t make me care about any of them then there’s a real problem.

I did not like this book. I’ve read worse. But this was not pleasant either. I said it before, I’ll say it again, that’s a real bummer.

Final Score: 1.5 Autobot/Action Man Relations out of 5


Ninjak #27
Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Kevin Maurer
Artists: CAFU and David Baron
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Reviewer: Rob Wrecks

Summary: He’s fought the Shadow Seven, journeyed to the Deadside, and bested death itself, but MI-6’s top superspy has never tested his limits like this! When Ninjak is assigned to the Middle East for a seemingly simple extraction, this once-routine mission will quickly turns south when the laws of nature are turned upside down…and mutated soldiers bearing the animalistic abilities of nature’s deadly predators strike from the shadows! Now, Ninjak must hone his lethal skills and channel his inner warrior like never before…or end up at the bottom of the food chain!

Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit. I’ve never (to my knowledge), read any Ninjak until recently. Having read the summary for this issue made me think it would be an okay jumping on point since it wasn’t part of a current storyline or anything like that. And after reading the issue, I still thought that since basically this was Ninjak performing a job dealing with a guy who’s been playing God. Who I guess clearly hasn’t seen any movies about that kind of thing going wrong! Or his friends we see at the end for that matter. Our purple loving Ninja also gets to nicely enough deal with a sister/brother pairing who are a bit more then human and quite deadly because of that for that matter. Also two people I wouldn’t want to come across in a dark alley either! And while the British may think its a good idea to have Khan (Ninjak’s target in this) with them for his knowledge, the fact that said knowledge could be used for ideas of theirs is still a troubling possibility to me. I kinda wonder if Ninjak himself thought of that or just wasn’t too concerned about it since this was just a job for him to do.

But considering his morals and what he uncovers on his way to getting Khan, I figure a part of him deep down did think that. Of course I could be wrong since hey, this is my first time reading a Ninjak issue after all! While this was something of a set up issue and the writing felt a little dry in some parts, I did enjoy this and I am curious to see what happens next. Especially with the fact that despite Ninjak’s best attempts, Khan’s friends still got some info to help further their cause. Which isn’t a really good one when you think about it since the guy we get introduced too sounds like a paranoid nut when it comes to Humanity’s ‘rightful’ place in the world. Kinda has me curious to see if Ninjak is gonna get involved in that whole thing when the time comes. Guess I’ll find out soon enough!

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