Written by Brett Reistroffer
The Answer #1 (Dark Horse) – An introverted but cute librarian (is there any other type of librarian in comics?) is given a mysterious puzzle cube as a present, and once she solves it her whole world is turned upside down. She is pointed to a website, which readers can visit themselves, although the real-world version is simply the site for the comic itself…sorry if that’s a spoiler. Once there she is gets her satisfactory fill of brain puzzles, but her ‘winnings’ might not be what she had in mind. Queue The Answer, the titular hero of the book and we get some standard comic book action. Standard seems to be a good adjective for this title, from the cute-’n-nerdy brainiac librarian, to the masked vigilante who can predict exactly what the bad guys are going to do down to the second. Granted, an introductory issue of a new series doesn’t have much of a chance for a big and intriguing set-up, but debut of The Answer seems to not offer much more than a completely tried and tried superhero schtick. Not to discount it as a whole though, because in all fairness I’ll give any series a couple issues before I pass any ultimate judgement. Unless it’s a real stinker, but I’m not about to put Mike Norton and Dennis Hopeless’ new series into that category, mostly due to the fact that, while it seems rather generic, it does refrain from falling too hopelessly into its’ genre conventions (see what I did there with the play on words?). If you’re a superhero leaning reader, go ahead and check it out, you certainly won’t go wrong with Norton’s artwork here, it’s pretty solid as usual, and the future issues just may build into something a bit more interesting than what the debut offers.
Borderlands Origins #3 (IDW) – Continuing with their series of character origin stories for the much loved Borderlands video game series, IDW is putting out the third installment this week. This time we are introduced to Mordecai who, coincidentally, was the first character I played in the franchise. The bird befriending sharpshooter isn’t on Pandora for any real specific reason, just out for some adventure, and of course he finds that soon enough in the form of gang trouble. He is left for dead in the desert, where a mysterious woman finds him and helps him, leading him to a supposedly safe location. Along the way, they come across a few well known characters from the game, like Marcus and the always affable Scooter. But while the characters are easily recognizable, and their dialogue is true to form, there is something lost without the familiar and near-iconic voice acting that gamers know them for. As for the main man himself, the games left the playable characters rather open ended as far as backstory and personality goes, so what we’re given here suffices and doesn’t conflict with any established traits. That said, these Origins books are not meant to be anything more than simple setups for the arrival of the characters on Marcus’s trademark bus, so substance is certainly not the name of the game here. The art actually takes the mainstage, Augustin Padilla’s panels are gritty and harsh, just like the desert world that hides the fabled Vault. If you’re a fan of the games, I suppose these make an interesting little distraction between starting new characters, but I don’t know that I would recommend them as comics by themselves. Happy Vault hunting!
Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #3 (Image) – The supernatural shit has hit the fan, and Dr. Morrow just might be in for his last adventure if he doesn’t play his magic cards right. Last issue, he decided to meet his elusive antagonists head on and agreed to deal with them face to face in order to get the cure for his mystical disease in exchange for his prized arcane possession. With some healthy helpings of double crossing of course. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one with deceit in mind when the affair is planned and things get a little ugly in the third issue of Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner’s spell surgeon series, Witch Doctor. The medical mysteries and magic meanderings give way to action in this issue, as Morrow finally comes face to face with the people responsible for inflicting an incurable disease on him, and we get to see his full team back him up, including the demon possessed Penny and his assistant Eric. Action, however, does not mean an absence of story, as we are treated to an interesting if not mostly predictable turn for the good doctor. The issue even starts off with something we don’t often see from the man with the worst bedside manner this side of Josef Mengele: a very human and apologetic Vincent Morrow. As usual, Lukas Ketner’s art is top notch, making for flashy and lively sequences of action, and grotesque creature design. This title offers too many things not to like with occult mystery, medical drama, demon fightin’ action, and more, so if you haven’t been reading the Witch Doctor series so far, do yourself a favor and catch up.
Bedlam #3 (Image) – The most aptly titled series out there splatters itself onto shelves this week with its’ third issue, and does so in high fashion. To start, we are treated to a small look into the development of the newly ‘born’ protagonist and his recovery. *As a public service announcement, fans of kittens should refrain from reading this issue*. But the brunt of this issue is Mr. Press delving into the spate of killings that has been plaguing the city of Bedlam, a series killings that the police have yet to even connect themselves. Case by case, he breaks down the grisly fate of the victims and the purpose of their demise from the killer’s perspective, coming to a conclusion that only he could understand given his relatable past. Although, doing this also puts him in a bit of a sticky situation since it makes him prime suspect number one. This macabre series is proving well worth the read so far, and the latest issue is no different. It’s a serial killer pathology story that does not necessarily wallow in that genre’s conventions and cliches. It’s gritty, dark, and unforgiving, giving the reader a taste of actual madness, not just crazy for the sake of crazy but a tangible sense of violent insanity. And of course, the book just looks good as hell with Riley Rossmo’s crude and visceral page scratchings that give a cold whimsey to unadulterated violence. If you are one for the demented and macabre but still want some readable substance with your crazy killers and masked heroes, you should be reading this series.