Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse) – Following up almost directly after the Battle of Yavin IV, Brian Wood’s new series in takes readers back to the action and galaxy spanning adventure that introduced most of us to the iconic series. Without a friendly planet to call home, safe from the reach of the Empire, the Rebel Alliance is scouring the Outer Rim for a habitable planet to harbor both them and their cause. On patrol to investigate a planet far out in the rim, Luke and Leia are ambushed by a Star Destroyer and a few tie fighters. The question is, how could the Empire have known about the planet unless there was a spy in the rebellion? The short action in the book is sleek and good-looking, as does everything for that matter. Carlos D’Anda’s art is clear and finely detailed at bringing the world of Star Wars alive. While the art is catching, this is a heavy story and dialogue issue, both of which are compelling and well-developed. The interaction between Leia and Luke feels natural and true to the characters, although the casual openness between them is somewhat unique to this book. Not to disappoint fans of the dark side, Lord Vader himself makes an appearance, and the chastening he receives from his master for the failure at Yavin IV should promise an especially furious and vengeful Sith Lord as the series progresses. While it is a bittersweet start, since the Star Wars comics license will inevitably find a new home at Marvel at the end of this year, Brian Wood and Carlos D’Anda’s new series is off to a solid start.
The End Times of Bram and Ben #1 (Image) – Appropriately enough after making it through 2012 without the Apocalypse happening, we get a comic not only about the end times, but about how silly it can all be (if it happened). In Bram and Ben, the rapture has occurred, and much to Ben’s shock, his roommate Bram is temporarily taken to heaven on a clerical error. The book then follows the two as they try to go about their regular lives, even though millions of people have vanished and no one else but them knows why. Rapture aside, this book is anything but serious, and every page of script is focused on humor, mostly of the buddy comedy sort, and it works pretty well. Dialogue is a main feature, and there’s plenty of cheap laughs and satire to be had on each page, aimed at both religion and general society. To be clear, this book should not be seen as a stab at Christianity by any means; sure, much of the humor is pointed at the faith, but it is angled more towards people themselves and how they behave on either side of the pew. The art is ‘sketchy’ and simplistic, but catchy and very lively to look at. Altogether, The End Times of Bram and Ben is a fun read for anyone looking for lighthearted humor with a mature edge, and if the book is anything, it’s a testament to the value and worthwhileness of Kickstarter campaigns being used for comic book projects (like these ones currently seeking funding, here, and here).
Jinnrise #1 (IDW) – What do you do when a warlike race of horse aliens that look suspiciously like Beta Ray Bill invade the planet? Well, this is a comic book so normally you would assemble a team of superheroes to save the day; or I guess you could get a little kid and his hookah inhabited by a bad-ass version of Robin Williams’ Genie from Aladdin. It makes for a much more interesting set-up, to be sure, but unfortunately that does not necessarily make for an overly interesting book by itself. Jinnrise is a new internationally licensed comic coming from IDW that mixes mid-eastern myth and standard comic book action, resulting in a flashy looking book with little of interest in its substance. Outside of the specific flavor of old world mythology this book is kind of borrowing from, this is an almost overly generic comic. From the alien invasion lead by a tyrannical warlord who announces his clichéd reasons for attacking to no one but himself, to the setup for the eventual cultural awakening of a typically ignorant and xenophobic American. The only interesting bit is the hookah genie, but that involves a little kid, and those ruin comics faster than DC editorial layoffs. To be fair, the book looks great; the art is sleek, stylish, and polished. The action plays out well in the panels and is flashy in general. It is a shame though, that the script and entire premise could not be a bit more compelling.
Eerie #2 (Dark Horse) – After a good run thus far of the newly exhumed Creepy series, and its true-to-form editorial handling, I was excited for the same treatment to be given to sister series Eerie. So far, the re-launch is proving worth the read, although perhaps not quite as strong as its siblinghood rival. Maybe it comes down to the fact that sci-fi inspired horror can come off as a bit campier than straightforward classic horror does. In the second issue we get two new stories, and a reprint of a Archie Goodwin and Gene Colan classic. The originals are serviceable, “Signaling the End” is a good horror from space piece that doesn’t involve alien armies or Cthulhian monsters, although the first story, “Our Friend, The Ant” falls a little flat. “Experiment in Fear”, the Goodwin and Colan reprint is a good addition and really helps the book assume the classic horror rag feel that it is trying to embody. If you like horror comics with a vintage flavor, and you have been digging Dark Horses re-launch of Creepy (and their hardcover collections of the original two series), this should be an easy be for you.