Micro reviews for the week of 7/27/22 – Multiversity Comics
There is a lot to cover on Wednesdays. We should know, as collectively, we read an insane amount of comics. Even with a large reviewing staff, it is difficult to get everything done. With that in mind, we’re back with Wrapping Wednesday, where we look at some of the books we missed in what was another great week of comics.
Let’s get this party started.
Bloodborne: Lady of the Lanterns #1
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Piotr Kowalski
Colored by Brad Simpson
Posted by JAME
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner
Unlike the previous ongoing “Bloodborne” series, Cullen Bunn seems prepared to take a completely different approach with “Lady of the Lanterns.” Taking inspiration from the video game Bloodborne, Bunn’s writers take the tale of gothic horror beyond its source, offering a unique take on the terror of the city of Yharnam. Using a very small cast and taking place almost entirely in a single, small building, “Bloodborne: Lady of the Lanterns” #1 provides more than enough context for newcomers to understand what’s going on without taking the story so far as to be completely unrecognizable to returning fans. The encroaching monstrosity of the threat at hand provides ample terror and suspense, enough to leave audiences on the edge of their seats wanting more.
Piotr Kowalski has illustrated previous “Bloodborne” comics, and his experience shows in the detail displayed throughout this miniseries debut. The tension is evident in every panel, as is the despair of the various characters. Monsters are at once disturbingly inhuman and just relatable enough to be even more unnerving. Violence is common, but the illustrations never consciously dwell on it, more focused on why it happens or how it affects anyone other than Kowalski who enjoys the action itself.
Just like Kowalski, Brad Simpson is a veteran of these video game comics, returning to lend a hand of color to a new story. Through his nuances and tones, the visceral terror of Yharnam emerges, perfectly encapsulating the never-ending nightmare that is this seemingly cursed city.
Final verdict: 7.5- Existing lore melds well with an interesting new story and returning stunning artwork for this latest look into the world of Bloodborne.
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Roger Cruz
Drawn by Norm Rapmund
Colored by Luis Guerrero
Written by Troy Peter
Reviewed by Alexander Manzo
This issue of “Robin” felt like a refresher on what made the Lazarus Tournament fun and interesting for the reader. Joshua Williamson takes Damian back to the island and gives him a mystery to solve with his friend Connor Hawke. Williamson puts the dynamic on a more even playing field than Batman and Robin’s usual dynamic since neither is leading. The two characters work together with their eyes on the prize. Damian is less cocky than in his usual demeanor and tries to have the quiet confidence of Batman, so it’s not surprising when he misses the apparent betrayal of the “victim” Lord Death Man, but more so when Mother Soul comes back into the picture on the last page.
Roger Cruz’s crisp and clean artwork keeps readers focused on the story while giving them stunning visuals to admire. As this story feels more fun and in keeping with the detective aspect of storytelling, the reader can see Damian’s wary and curious expression as he tries to figure out what is going on. Cruz gives Damian a moment of expressiveness when he playfully confronts Flatline for going around calling her his girlfriend. It’s a little reminder to himself and the reader that he’s not quite as mature as he might think. There’s also a two-page fight sequence that Cruz gets to showcase Damian’s quick thinking when a big one Gundam-like a machine trying to destroy them. Norm Rapmund’s colors also stand out as he shifts from the darker tones where Lord Death Man is kept to the bright techno colors of Japan. Either way, it doesn’t feel like he’s overusing brightness or darkness to prevent the reader from having to squint to see what’s going on.
Final verdict: 8.8. – Williamson returns to the lighter and funnier element of ‘Robin’ for his final arc.
Superman: Space Age #1
Written by Mark Russell
Illustrated by Michael Allred
Colored by Laura Allred
Written by Dave Sharpe
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin
Part “Crisis On Infinite Earths” prequel, part “Justice League: The New Frontier”-like reimagining of DC superheroes in the political and social context of the 60s, “Superman: Space Age” #1 goes too far. But while it takes an admirably large swing, it doesn’t quite achieve what it’s trying to do. The problem with this comic is rooted in its size. While sweeping stories are certainly great when done right, there’s something to be said for brevity. When writers are willing to kill their loved ones, it can enhance their work, providing a greater sense of clarity and focus. This debut, while playing with some really interesting ideas, covers so much ground that it diminishes its impact.
In all its indulgence, “Superman: Space Age” #1 manages to end up feeling like DC’s Forrest Gump. The assassination of JFK, several wars and the civil rights movement are all featured prominently in this issue. These are, of course, all worthy topics to explore, but by touching on them all, the issue seems like it just ticks boxes. Lois Lane getting arrested with the Freedom Riders and Superman breaking the group out of prison isn’t so much an interesting take on what might have been as it is smug “very special episode” material. The same goes for General Lane and Pa Kent’s war flashbacks. Of course, these things provide great prompts to think about what it means to be a hero and protect the world. But “Superman: Space Age” #1 is so decompressed that those thoughts get lost in the shuffle.
Characters and actual narrative are also devalued due to the issue’s length. Telling a story about American history that is also the origin story of each Justice League member and also setting the stage for “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” neither story lands. It’s not that none of the material is interesting. It’s great to see the Batsuit start as an invention for soldiers. It is interesting to see Hal Jordan as a pawn in war. Clark Kent figuring out if he’s ready to be a hero is compelling. However, it is all too much. However, it’s easy to imagine what a more streamlined, streamlined version of this comic would look like — just read “Justice League: The New Frontier.”
The artwork is the single bright spot in “Superman: Space Age” #1. The Allred’s are an incredible team with a beautiful, throwback style that fits perfectly with what this comic is about. Every single page feels like a masterpiece, filled with life and detail. Perhaps no moment lands as well as the first flash from 1985. Superman watching a crumbling world, walking through the Fortress of Solitude and reuniting with Jon and Lois is gorgeous and emotionally affecting. Superman’s first flight is also an exciting and beautiful moment.
All in all, “Superman: Space Age” #1 is as mixed as it gets. On the one hand, it is bloated and tries to achieve so much that it achieves very little. On the other hand, it’s full of good ideas that are worth engaging with. Perhaps as it develops, it will become a more successful piece of storytelling.
Final verdict: 6.2- Beautiful art cannot make up for a complete lack of focus