CBFU: From the Belgian Shop – August the 3rd

I heard you guys like comics. Good thing I’m reviewing some. Join me as I review the comics that the guys over at CBFU: From the Shop didn’t review.

If you want to know what else you can read this week, go check out Previewsworld for all the issues and collections coming out this week.

1. Citizen Jack (TPB) by Sam Humphries & Tommy Patterson.

Sam Humphries writing has been very mediocre lately. Legendary Star Lord had mixed reviews, as well had Avengers AI and his current run on Green Lanterns started great, but is tanking really fast. This book is by far the worst thing I’ve ever read by him.

Jack Northworthy is an ex-mayor of a small town in Minnesota. He’s addicted to booze, drugs, women… all you can think of. His time as mayor was the worst time for the small town ever, and he was the first mayor ever in Minnesota to be impeached. He made a pact with a demon, Marlinspike, and now he’s running for president with the help of said demon. The way Jack gets his face on the news, how he gets into the race, how he gets the nomination and how he eventually gets presidency, is beyond stupid. Scandals break out, he has an “anti-children” policy and he even murders, but the American people seem to love it. I know American politics are weird, but this is just incredibly stupid and bad writing.

The story itself is more action driven and dialogue driven than it is narration driven, and that’s for the better. The few times Humphries uses the narrative text boxes, they feel out of place. Either he’s not consistent with who is narrating, or the text just feels dumb, or it’s just useless text that could just as well be left out. The whole pacing of the book feels wrong as well, since there’s little to none external interference with Marlinspike. Somebody suddenly notices him, but then she just forgets about him with some stupid explanation. Both story and writing are incredibly bad in this book.

If the book had better art, that would have saved it at least a little. But Patterson’s art doesn’t help the book. It’s very shaky and not well defined. The only good thing I find about this book is that the coloring for the very few flashback scenes is always in a red-blue tone. This helps setting the presidential setting, but further than that the coloring isn’t exceptional either.

Long story short, this book is disgrace. A disgrace to the American people, a disgrace to American politics and a disgrace to comics. With sub par art and bad writing, this book is worth none of your time and/or money.

2/10 Lugos.

2. A Year of Marvels: Unstoppable #1 by Paul Allor, Chuck Wendig, Juanan Ramirez & Diego Olortegui.

This issue contains two stories previously published as digital comics. The first one, a Nova story, is written by Paul Allor with art by Diego Olortegui. The second one, a Winter Soldier story, is written by Chuck Wendig and drawn by Juanan Ramirez.

The first story is a bit dull. Nova comes across an E-list villain who claims to be a hero. Nova believes him, since he doesn’t know him. He asks Nova to help him find his daughter and Nova agrees. Stuff goes wrong, obviously, and Iron Man comes to help. The story doesn’t have a lot of pace and feels really unoriginal, so it’s pretty boring.

The art is okay. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not outstanding art either. It’s generic art you’d expect for a generic story like this. Since it’s not that bad, it does help to appreciate the story a little more.

The second story is way better. It feels like a good introduction story to the Winter Soldier, a bit what you’d expect from a Rebirth special for a character from DC. Winter Soldier’s locker unit gets robbed by Hydra, he falls into their hands and he fights them. Nothing special about the story itself, but the dialogue goes into his past and kind of reintroduces him to the readers. It’s a fun story by Chuck Wendig, who is also doing Hyperion, which is on the same level of quality as this story.

The art by Ramirez is just like the previous story pretty generic. Nothing special about it, just art you’d expect from a story like this.

5/10 Lugos for the first story.
7/10 Lugos for the second story.

3. Moon Knight #5 by Jeff Lemire & various artists.

Oh man. This book. Jeff Lemire has been at his absolute peak lately and is one of the best writers at the moment. At Marvel, he’s been going hard with Old Man Logan and this fantastic Moon Knight series. Together with Tom King’s Vision, this is one of the best books currently published by Marvel.

Following in the footsteps of a really great Moon Knight run by Warren Ellis and then a surprisingly great follow up by Brian Wood, this book had big shoes to fill. And boy did it fill them. Moon Knight has always been known to have a series of mental illnesses and this storyline mainly focuses on that. Marc Spector is in a mental hospital without knowing how he got there, he only knows he’s been stripped of Khonshu’s powers. He’s starting to doubt that the hospital is real and starts saying it’s an evil plan by Seth, Khonshu’s great adversary. Spector learns that he’s not actually Moon Knight and that it’s all been a mental delusion. Or is it? Marc tries to escape the hospital and lands in an Egyptian underworld where he’s taken away by a number of illusions, realities and everything in between. Action packed and vivacious from the beginning.

The series has been toying with the reader from the beginning. Is Marc actually Moon Knight? Or is he just batshit crazy? Even this issue, the conclusion to the first storyline of the series, doesn’t answer that question. We’re left with a number of questions and the issue itself is really confusing, but that just helps with setting up the vibe of not knowing whether Marc is actually crazy or not.

The previous issues of this series were all drawn by Greg Smallwood with great color work by Jordie Bellaire. Smallwood also did the artwork on Brian Wood’s run with the character, so he already proved himself to be a great artist for Moon Knight. This issue is partially drawn by him, but includes pages drawn by Wilfredo Torres, Francesco Francavilla and James Stokoe. Smallwood’s art is still the best of the whole bunch, but the art by Torres is also incredibly good. Francavilla’s art is okay, the coloring just feels a little bit off for a Moon Knight book, since it’s a little bit too colorful. But that’s just Francavilla’s style. Stokoe’s art wasn’t really good, but luckily it was only for two pages. The different artists helped with setting up the final part of this story, since Marc was drawn from one world or reality to another, each time drawn by another artist to show the many differences.

This is a must buy series for every comic book fan. If you’re not a fan of Marvel, it doesn’t matter because Moon Knight doesn’t acknowledge the rest of the universe. It could perfectly have been an Image book, were it not that Moon Knight is Marvel’s property. So everybody reading this review, please go check out Moon Knight by Jeff Lemire. You won’t be disappointed.

10/10 Lugos for both this issue and the overall series.

CLASSIC BANGERS: Shazam! Power of Hope by Alex Ross & Paul Dini.

Written by Alex Ross & Paul Dini, with art by Alex Ross, this graphic novel from the year 2000 is part of a pentalogy by the same creative team. Other books in this series are Batman: War on Crime, Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth, Superman: Peace on Earth and JLA: Liberty and Justice. This is the only book I’ve read so far in this series, but I can already say that I’m eager to read all the other books because this book was fantastic.

Paul Dini needs little introduction. He’s written a lot of comics, but is most notably known for his work on Batman: The Animated Series. He was the writer, producer and editor of a considerable amount of episodes and is the co-creator of the one and only Harley Quinn. He has also written some comics, for which he has won Eisner and Harvey awards. So he definitely knows his way around superheroes.

This story is just beautiful. It introduces us quickly to Captain Marvel and gives us a general knowledge of what he’s capable of. Dini and Ross very much focus on the childlike aspect of Captain Marvel, since he’s essentially a little boy that can turn into a hero by saying the word “Shazam!” The story revolves around Captain Marvel who decides to go help out at a children’s hospital to make all the kids feel better. He tells them stories of his greatest battles and even takes them with him on an adventure. During the day he tries to help all the kids in one way or another. This ranges from ‘talking’ with an abusive father to flying over to Japan to get a doctor to help a blind child. The title of this book very much represents what this book is about, since Captain Marvel is basically the embodiment of hope in this book.

The way the story is told is fantastic. There are no speech bubbles and no dialogue. The story is driven by the narration and heavily dependent on the artwork, which is great. Billy, the young boy who turns into the Captain, is the narrator. But even when he talks about himself, it feels like a distant, third person narrator. In some way, this very much suits the book. The only problem I might have with the narration, is that there are not boxes. It’s just text on the artwork, which is sometimes hard to read.

Alex Ross doesn’t need any introduction at all. If you’re a comic book fan and you don’t know about Alex Ross, you’re doing it wrong. If you’ve been reading All-New, All Different Avengers or Amazing Spider-Man currently, then you know how good he is at cover work. His cover work is museum worthy and his interior art is off the charts. He only has one Eisner award, for Kingdom Come, but he definitely deserves a dozen more. The art in this issue is nothing less than to be expected. Great attention to detail, warm painted colors, defined characters. More than half of this book are splash pages, and I don’t think anybody would mind that even one bit. Everything you want from comic book artwork and more.

Anybody who wants to read more about the seemingly forgotten superhero of DC, this is the book you need. But not only those people should pick this up, but everybody who loves comics.

9/10 Lugos.

Next week, I’ll review more comics, so make sure to check back then!

FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Greg Smallwood & Jordie Bellaire.

Benno
benno.debals@hotmail.com