Eliot Cole writes for Bleeding Cool
This is a comic book that I want to high five. Dredd-referencing, humour-mongering, pencil-sharing, colour changing, meta-textual, brilliance.
Wildly quotable beginnings aside, this is absolutely fantastic, and this review will be a little spoilerific.
Our Dredd analogue here is Boss Cage, but it seems by their first panel that there’s more of a mob-style territorial set up to this wild future. However, they’ve either encapsulated ‘Hell Tech” or this is a future ruled by the various demons of hell, perhaps.
Vogurnus Koth has kept his new style and relevance and now that I think about it I can see that being very screen friendly. But, when you follow that thinking through, it actually makes for a better comic book character. Sure, a mute ‘monster’ is more of a challenge, but does that always equal accessibility? No, I’m not sure that it does. Horror has always been as much of a genre as super heroes now are, and Man-Thing is obviously very much of that world. Opening up an intelligence and (such a) vocabulary really means that, even on a base level, more readers will hopefully connect. Where-as reading above that level there will be appreciation of the skill going in to developing a character like this anew. Although I could be seeing things that aren’t there.
Frank Martin Jr.’s adaptive colouring ties together (I’m assuming) Kev Walker’s Thunderbolts and Declan Shalvey’s Dark Avengers, and it does it rather well indeed. He drops in to a slightly darker <sic>, less flatly filled palette for Skaar’s lot. This works better with the slightly less detailed, yet still beautiful, pencils that Shalvey produces. I feel like the slight change really does actually assist the story telling, and the only thing I wonder is if I’m again seeing things! Please do check out story pages fourteen and fifteen, and hopefully you’ll see what I’m saying. I can’t really see a difference in separate issue previews online, but I’m convinced it’s there. Obviously Mr. Walker kills it in every issue of Thunderbolts he delivers.
Despite my possible delusions, this issue manages to be as funny as fuck. Within a few pages there are at least five wonderful lines, including a quite brilliantly obvious meta-joke that deserves some ‘best line’ award come the end of the year.
Add to this a Cage-Dredd that mashes so much together that it’s unbelievable how they might fit all of it in. Stark, Blaze, Castle, Parker … and of course, Dredd. It works, too, with everything being relevant in it’s own place. This is kind of thanks to the amount of story and information that Parker can tell and infer via the art team (or their prerogatives) to the readers. You come away with so much comic with any Jeff Parker book, which is a lovely feeling perhaps only matched by Hickman’s Fantastic Four/FF comics in Marvel’s $2.99 bracket. Though I think that Keith Giffen’s pre-nu52 Doom Patrol really pushed the same buttons, although that was a more verbose read.
On the subject of Mr. Parker; I also see very strong composition skills. His slow collision of two storylines shows great movement, which I can’t tell how much was editorial edict (to bring in the “Dark Avengers” and retitle the book) and what was creative decision as a part of the process. That I really can’t see the stitching is a great job, and we’re now looking at two sides of one coin, rather than different currencies. The hard work on both story (and time!) lines gives the creative team the option to stay flipping between the groups like this or focus an issue wherever they feel, even for a whole issue.
So; the funny, the clever and the fabulous complementary art bring this functional issue in to a pretty great issue as a very strong four out of five. It’s a *very* consistent Marvel title, and if you’re not buying it I can see these epoch-spanning stories making a great two or three collections in TPB or HC. Great stuff.
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