Written by Brett Reistroffer
Snapshot #1 (Image) – Jake Dobson is on his way to work at a local San Francisco comic shop one morning when he comes across a dropped phone, which wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were not filled with pictures of a grisly murder scene. What ensues is a suspenseful start to a not-so-standard murder mystery, with Jake thrown into the deep end of it. While the setup is intriguing and somewhat original, the delivery of it does leave a little to be desired. The dialogue and actions of the characters feels contrived and a bit uninspired, as if scribe Andy Diggle was working off out of a crime mystery procedural book. On the whole though, this is only a minor eye-roller, as the story and pacing overshadow it and make for a decently interesting introduction to the series. Also catching is the black and white art of Diggle’s often-times partner, Jock. The inking is quite dynamic, with a good level of grit and detail where the action is happening, while stark and minimal where scenery bleeds off into the distance. Paneling is another strong point for the 2000 AD alumnus, and the art’s pacing and flow in Snapshot make for a fun and intuitive read. With the way the debut issue progresses, it would be easy to see the series go either way in terms of developing into a twisting and original thriller, or a tried and tired geek-to-action-hero title. Given the pedigree of the talent mixing this one up though, I am inclined to bet on the former, so go ahead and check out Snapshot for some gritty crime drama.
Dia De Los Muertos #1 (Image) – Dia De Los Muertos is generally known in America simply as the “Mexican Halloween”, but The Day of the Dead has much more cultural significance than dressing up and developing type 2 diabetes. It is a day spent in remembrance of loved ones that have passed on, and when the thin veil that separates the land of the living from the world of the dead is at its thinnest, sometimes allowing those most forlorn to pass freely between the two. It is in this vein that Image Comic’s Dia De Los Muertos spins three short tales of the living and the dead, helmed by the trademark artist extraordinaire Riley Rossmo. Each story is penned by a different author and there will be nine altogether over three issues, each one spinning a tale set about the Day of the Dead. The three stories in this first issue are well varied, ranging from vengeance to remembrance, each one enjoyable as a stand-alone read. The art, all headed by Riley Rossmo, is catchy and absorbing, reflecting the artist’s trademark style of near-chaotic sketching. To mix the visual feel up a bit and to give each of the stories their own look, a different colorist is utilized, and it really makes each section stand out on its own. Dia De Los Muertos so far is a worthwhile anthology that is as fun to read as it is to look at, and as such deserves to be checked out by anyone looking for a good casual read.
Red Team #1 (Dynamite) – With The Boys now at a close Garth Ennis has some time to play around with a new series, and he’s not straying too far from home by releasing his new Red Team through Dynamite comics. While his previous series was centered on a team responsible for cleaning up bad apples amongst the ‘good guys’, this time around we are given a world of a team responsible for cleaning up bad apples in general. The titular Red Team is a New York anti-narcotics unit who have been after a particular bad apple that has eluded them for two years. Frustrated that their hands are tied from truly taking care of business, they decide to take a step into a world in which there’s no coming back. Not terribly original to be sure, and it even has some distinct flavorings of The Shield, but Ennis takes the concept and does his thing with it, ie. giving the story a gritty realism that sucks the reader in and keeps them turning the pages. Because of the genuine intensity and hard-boiled frankness of the script Red Team is not so much an action book, as one would surmise from the premise, but a crime thriller with a dark and believable honesty. If the title’s setup is any indicator of what happens next, it should be a fun ride, albeit one with no hope for a happy ending, but that’s Garth’s style and it always serves him well. If you want something outside of superheroes that is instead realistic, almost to a disturbing point, definitely check this one out.
Star Wars: Dark Times – Fire Carrier #1 (Dark Horse) – When we last saw Master K’Kruhk, he was fighting pirates in order to protect the group of younglings he saved from the sweeping Order 66 pogrom. Now, he is leading them aimlessly in search of a new home, but with a damaged ship they are forced to land on a planet overburdened with refugees. Placed in a camp, the Jedi must look after his orphaned flock in the midst of a military force that resents refugees, separatists, and aliens in general. Their only hope may be a lottery system that sends refugees to the north in order to colonize, but upon reuniting with an old friend, K’Kruhk learns that more urgent action may be needed. It is good to see the Dark Times series continue, as it has been one of my favorites in the Star Wars universe. There is not a great deal going on here in the first issue of the new mini series, but it sets the stage for whatever tribulations are coming for the wayward Jedi and his group of Padawans. The art, handled by Gabriel Guzman and Gary Henderson, is rich and detailed, keeping the bar set for Dark Horse’s line of Lucas books. If you haven’t kept up on the Dark Times series, you can do yourself a favor and seek out the trades, which are worth it for Dass Jennir’s adventures alone then come back and jump straight into Fire Carrier.