Comic Bastards Review for August 27, 2014

As I mentioned last week in my season 2 post, I’m now writing comic review for Comic Bastards. Each week I’ll be posting excerpts from my reviews for the site with links to the entire article. Make sure to check out all the other coverage, ranging from manga to movies and videogames.

Pop #1 by Curt Pires and Jason Copeland

Remember how Fifty Shades of Grey started out as some Twilight knockoff? Well after reading the first issue of Pop, I’m pretty confident that Curt Pires’ story had its beginnings as Grant Morrison-era Doom Patrol fan fic, one that shot for the same kooky and compelling narrative style but ends up having more in common with the guy you knew in 10th grade who tried just a little too hard to be weird (that guy was me if you went St. John’s. Class of ’07!).

Pop’s premise seems simple enough from this premiere issue. Mysterious organization has been behind the artificial creation of pop stars like Mariah Carey and Britney Spears, using them to satiate the masses for some nefarious means. At the start of this issue, Elle Ray, their most recent pop star, has prematurely broken out from her artificial womb and is on the run. Soon after she bumps into every geek stoner dude Coop as he’s heading out of his comic book/record store to make his way home to commit suicide via a comically large noose that I guess he prepared earlier that day. Evil organization headman tracks down Elle Ray thanks to a mechanical worm implanted in her skin, and sends a pair of sadistic, clever, and cute henchmen to track her down. [See complete review here].

Sundowners #1 by Tim Steely and Jim Terry

Sundowners is one of three new original comics I read this week, and while it’s not the best of the bunch, it definitely did enough to make me want to return for its second issue. Written by Hack/Slash creator Tim Seeley, Sundowners features a group of mentally disturbed superhero wannabes and the equally disturbed disbarred psychologist, David ‘Shreds’ Shrejic, who facilitates their Sundowners (Shreds’ term for costumed vigilantes) support group. Other than some brief intros for each vigilante, not much else occurs. Yet, Seeley sets up several plot lines that suggest that this comic may turn out to be the supernatural psychological superhero thriller I didn’t know I wanted.

This issue opens on a page featuring the female vigilante Pigeon on what the issue’s narrator tells us is her final night on patrol. Although we don’t see her again for the rest of the issue, her faith seems tied to those of the Sundowners with both the final page and a cleansing ritual foreshadowing some supernatural elements later in the series. [See complete review here.]

Wayward #1 by Jim Zub and Steve Cummins

Wayward is the comic equivalent of John Travolta’s Tony Manero stepping onto the dance floor for the first time in Saturday Night Fever. Sure everyone else knows all the moves- the hip thrust, the gyrating pelvis, the hustle- but once Manero takes the floor it’s evident that most everyone else could do with a few lessons.

Hopefully that analogy explains my impression of Wayward, which is that it’s another fantastic entry in Image’s already staggering amount of knockouts. When I read the pitch of this series ‘Buffy meets Hellboy,’ I thought that there was no way it could live up to the fun of the former and the explorations into ancient mythology of the latter. This first issue shows that writer Jim Zub and artist Steve Cummings are more than capable of meeting those lofty expectations. Unlike many other teams who struggle to make their protagonist interesting in the first issue, Wayward’s Rori Lane possesses an authentic teenage voice that reminds of Brian K. Vaughn’s Runawayscast. After Rori’s mom leaves work, and we’re shown scenes of her exploring Tokyo her enthusiasm at being in one of the coolest cities in the world rings true and makes her an engaging and relatable character to the legions of Americans and Western Europeans fascinated with Japanese culture. [See complete review here]

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