RandoMonday: Queen and Country v1

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

 

Queen and Country v1 by Rucka, Rolstan, Luth, Sakai, and Konot.

I love spy stories, whether it’s James Bond, Atomic Blonde, Red Sparrow, or Velvet. And if one of my favorite writers is involved, even better. I’ve had this digital trade for a while now and the randomizer got me to read this finally.

The story itself is simple: British SIS spy Tara Chace assassinates a retired Russian general, Odessa wants revenge and attacks the SIS HQ, killing a couple agents, SIS Director of Ops wants revenge and works against MI5’s operation to apprehend those responsible, and Chace is used as bait by MI5 to draw out the Odessa assassins.

I don’t know why, but I expected a grander story (I blame James Bonditis), but there’s certainly nothing wrong with what we got in this first trade, though I would have liked a bit more personality/characterization. Most of what we see is only in relation to the characters’ jobs, but maybe that was the point: their jobs are all-consuming.

Rolstan’s art also is fine, but the simple, almost cartoony quality of it, for me, detracts from the tone the story is trying to evoke. It doesn’t help when you see the Tim Sale covers–I would have loved to see this comic drawn by Sale.

The question for me now is do I buy the next collection?

What did you think of this comic book?

RandoMonday: Astonishing X-Men #9

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

AstonishingXMen9

Astonishing X-Men #9 by Whedon, Cassaday, Martin, Eliopoulos, Ryan, Lowe, and Marts.

The Danger Room is ALIVE!!! And apparently trying to kill Kitty and some students while Wolverine, the newly (then) returned Colossus, Cyclops, Beast, and Emma Frost spend most of the issue trying to do … anything. Then they do exactly what the Danger Room wants — freeing it.

I want to highlight Cassaday and Martin’s art. Cassady is always a great draftsman, but I particularly enjoyed how he varied his page layout and panel structure — the former allowed for a bunch of full page shots of all these characters but the latter without making the pacing boring and one-note (plus, he just draws pretty). Martins colors really heighten the tension, going from normal lighting to a hellish landscape, and back to convey a false sense of danger averted!

12,100th Comic Added to My Collection

Strangers in Paradise XXV #3 by Terry Moore

12,000th Comic Added to My Collection

Flash Annual 2018 by Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, Christian Duce, Hi-Fi, Carlos M. Mangual, Travis Lanham, Andrew Marino, & Rebecca Taylor

RandoMonday: Justice League of America #11

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Justice League of America (2006) #11 by Brad Meltzer, Gene Ha, Rob Leigh, Art Lyon, Adam Schlagman, and Eddie Berganza, with cover by Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald

This has always been one of my favorite issues of the Brad Meltzer written JLA. I first read this in the trade collection, and in large part because of this issue and that I loved the relaunch of this title so much, I went and bought all of the single issues. This is a gripping done-in-one story focusing on Red Arrow and Vixen. A building has collapsed and they are both trapped inside. A lot of the story is Roy Harper assessing the situation and convincing Vixen to use her powers to get them free. Vixen, unfortunately, comes across as the damsel in distress and is a disservice to the character, but it does also show that heroes sometimes have feet of clay. I just think they could have easily reversed the roles, especially because of Red Arrow’s past and his anxiety over orphaning his daughter, and the story would have been just as strong, though the ending would need to be tweaked.

Ha’s and Lyon’s art really worked well to convey the claustrophobic nature of the story. There’s a reference to smoke where they are trapped and the grainy way the colors are shown really accentuates that aspect. The pacing of this story is top notch. The first page is mostly black panels with jagged borders and dialog boxes with gray text to give us what happened before page one. As each panel progresses, we see more and more of Red Arrow on the right as they situation is revealed to us, and when you turn the page, there’s a two-page spread reveal. The next few pages build the tension as Red Arrow attempts to locate how close Vixen is to himself. Then there’s another reveal demonstrating just how bad things are for the characters.

The rest of the issue is mostly discovery: that Vixen’s powers have changed and is why she can’t call upon a burrowing animal to help them escape, and, in another full-page reveal, that they are trapped upside down in the rubble. The following page is again mostly black panels with text, but the dialog boxes start off upside down and turn as you read each panel, simulating the movement of the characters in total darkness. Of course, they finally escape, and the issue ends with them ascending in the water as the panels fade to black again, just as they issue started. The dialog of the people who spot them ends with, “Sure that’s them?” “Definitely them.” “The ones who saved us.” I like it when the heroic efforts of our costumed heroes are appreciated.

Finally, there’s a few Titans references Red Arrow throws out, further endearing me to this story, such as when Dick trained him to breath and focus in a crisis situation, just as Batman had trained Dick, and Red Arrow compares the trembling in Vixen’s voice to Gar (Changeling) when he lost Terra. I love when writers/artists throw in continuity stuff, thus building a larger narrative. It’s called the DCU for a reason! :)