Written by Brett Reistroffer
The first Round-Up of the new year! ‘12 saw some really good comics, including some must-read new series, so here’s to hoping that 2013 brings us even better funny books.
Harvest #5 (Image) – Things have not been going well for disgraced doctor Benjamin Dane for, oh, about 5 issues now. The patient he had been helping has been kidnapped, the FBI is closing in on him, and to top it all off he’s got a fresh gunshot to the gut. The final issue starts off with the black market surgeon bleeding out in a run down motel room (a fitting place his character), and taking matters into his own hand, or scalpel. With Mariko, the Yakuza gunslinger still with him, and one less bullet in his body, Ben decides to deal with Craven face to face. The action and story in general here is pretty tense, and keeps you turning the pages to see how the endgame plays out. Although, even as a final issue there is plenty left for a second mini-series, even after Dr. Dane plays a well thought hand. As always, he is accompanied by the shard of conscience personified as a little boy, pushing him towards a goal, and making for some interesting, if not humorous dialogue. Colin Lorimer’s art still helps drive the story with its style that seamlessly flows between the gritty and the clean, and in deference to the content of the script keeps the imagery dark and shadowy. In all, Harvest has been a great five issue run that did not disappoint, and satisfied an itch for the grim and gritty. Here’s to another series in the future, so we can get some more underground surgery action!
Mars Attacks/Popeye – One Shot (IDW) – Sure, it’s gimmicky license co-branding but that doesn’t prevent it from being a fun little read in the spirit of two classics. To be clear, this is a Mars Attacks cameo inside of a Popeye book, rather than vice versa, and the comic actually does the squinty eyed sailor justice in keeping the feel and look of the original strips. In this story the trademark Martians have invaded the quiet little seaside village that Popeye, Olive Oyl and the rest of the cast inhabit, and the stern faced sea rat must throw together an army to take on the extraterrestrial ‘marshkins’. The dialogue is vintage Popeye, replete with his broad palette of always amusing vernacular and otherwise charming way with words. The humor is delivered in much the same good ol’ fashioned slapstick routine, but with a definitely modern voice. It works too, there are some seriously chuckle-worthy gags in this one shot. The art is loyal to the series, with the martians being drawn in a detail that would suit their own comics, but still done in a way that makes them fit in a Popeye comic strip. It’s a quick fun read, it’s silly, and while the worth may not necessarily match the cover price I still have to recommend it anyone who’s a fan of classic funny books.
Colder #3 (Dark Horse) – Declan, the man thought to be in a waking coma has decided to ‘wake up’ and confide to Reece, his caretakers, the secrets of his past and the world around them. In the last issue he introduced her to the world of insanity that he crosses back and forth from at will, leaving her bewildered and scared, but unfortunately the crazy was only just starting. Nimble Jack, the eater of minds (disturbed ones, preferably) has found Declan and is very hungry. Through the third issue, Declan is on the run with Reese through both the real world and the bleak world of tortured minds. We also get some shedding of light on the general workings of the Colder universe, but it’s nothing that wasn’t already there for the most part. Things are definitely picking up here, as both the story and the art are upping the pace and visual chaos. The art especially is evolving into a huge part of the book, as Juan Ferreyra’s illustrations are given increasing free reign on the crazy. Some of the visuals are downright creepy and surreal, and towards the end of the issue we see some wonderfully nightmarish creations. While I don’t think the budding love interest is necessary, I do like where this book is going and will definitely be following it.
Vampirella Strikes #1 (Dynamite) – Even bloodthirsty demon slayers need some time every once in awhile for self-reflection, which is how we find the titular lady of blood in this new mini-series. Vampirella has recently come across a small tavern in Boston, infested with demons that have just started feeding on some unfortunate victims, and being the demon ass-kicker that she is, things go down bloody. Afterwards she cools off with a glass of wine and considers the savagery of her nature and the constant thirst that perpetually threatens to taker her over. A side story unfolds with Janus, a fellow slayer of un-cute things crashing a supernatural blackmarket deal, but it feels more like filler for the sake of character introduction than anything. The set-up for the six-issue arc actually happens at the end of the book, and while it’s nothing too intriguing it does set the stage for more bloodshed for sure. You’re probably not interested in Vampirella for story content so much as gore and sexy stuff, and this book will most likely sate that thirst. John D’s art is slick and does the gritty stuff pretty good, the higher the viscera level the better the panels look in detail. And if you want super sexy, there’s an old Michael Turner variant cover for the debut issue, and it doesn’t get any sexier than that.