Animal Man #25 – Comics Review

Animal Man #25: Hollywood Babylon

(This review contains some spoilers for Animal Man #25: a plot event, and character interactions.)

I enjoyed the high point of the story in Animal Man #25 – in the face of his life falling to pieces, Buddy Baker – AKA Animal Man – makes a decision to not violently use his animal powers to take revenge. Instead, he reigns himself in, and looks after his partner – Ellen, his wife.

The scene is similar to one in The Incredibles. Bob Parr won’t let his wife join him in battle agains the Omnidroid because he is afraid she might be injured, or worse. The bonds between partners, and their children, are at the core of Animal Man. Combined with the Hollywood setting, the fantasy action, and the intimidating villain, the comic presents a strong story with excellent sequential art.

Cover artwork for Animal Man #21 by Jae Lee

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Comics Review – The Wake #2

The Wake: Part Two

Under the ocean off the south slope of Alaska, a seafloor oil drilling rig houses an ancient secret in a containment tank. For now, a predator is restrained, and a team of experts study it, and speculate on this creatures origins. While they discuss where the creature came from, and how it fits into folklore and mythology, The comic book jumps along a timeline – the distant past, the distant future, and back to the present.
Eventually, we see each team member retire to rest for the night. As they sit up late, attending to their studies, vivid hallucinations begin. Dr. Lee Archer listens to the call of the creature, which is similar to whale song. She makes a breakthrough, analysing and scrutinising the sound, and then confronts an unexpected visitor.

Art

The artwork is typically moody and shadowed evoking a solid, horror atmosphere. It’s what a reader would expect from a horror comic. Vertigo comics aim to defy conventions, however, and what makes the art original is the blend of light and dark.

During hallucination scenes, a fecund garden springs to life complete with flowers and summer sunlight. While the folklorist from Brown University recounts the mythology of mermaids and sirens, statues, artworks, and epic images appear around him, bringing his words to life in a gold light.

In the distant past, there’s a scene of intense battle steeped in blood and salt water. It’s definitely for mature readers. The scene has a stunning depiction of a giant shark captured in a great sequence of panels.

Characters

Dr Lee Archer has a tormented past. She dose not reveal anything to the other characters. The more insightful cast members guess, based on her silence and harsh body language, that she is thinking darkly. We see her thoughts played out and there is a sense of dread in the artwork. The comic panels slide under the water as she does. There’s only a glimpse of what she’s seen under the surface.

Leonard “Meeks” Meeker is a poacher who captures endangered sea life, and designs elaborate traps for deep sea creatures. He’s unapologetic for his poaching, and offers to kill the creature if necessary.

Themes, Ethics, Values.

The damage caused by high intensity sound, and the threat of species extinction brought on by poaching are referenced. The comic raises awareness of these problems. Dr. Lee criticises her boss for his role in a project which used high frequency sound as a defense, and resulted in the death of several marine mammals.

This project, the S-net, is similar to a Navy project that caused the beaching of whales near the Bahamas in 2000. The National Resources Defense Council outlines that the sound intensity – over 140 decibels – was too powerful for the marine mammals in the area. The result of the test was the whale beaching. The whales had significant tissue damage to their eyes and ears.

Dr. Archer also critical of Meeks for his role in pushing species closer to extinction. The World Wildlife Federation has advocated for the protection of endangered marine species – particularly turtles and whales. As a scientists who works with whales, it makes sense for her character to be critical of his illegal poaching.

 A Bit more on The Wake #2

Another science fiction scene appears at the end of the issue – the Apollo 11 landing module on the Lunar surface. The Earth’s moon, which influence the ocean’s tides, is in trouble. Another layer of mystery is introduced, leaving a cliffhanger ending. A strong horror comic book, with select science fiction themes.

The Wake #2 is published by Vertigo Comics. Writer: Scott Snyder. Artists: Sean Murphy Colourist. Matt Hollingsworth. Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher.

Comics Review – Wonder Woman #18

Wonder Woman’s monthly comic continues to shine as an example of great story and stunning art. Brian Azzarello puts on a show in Wonder Woman #18, with several epic battles, and a reunion long delayed. 

I am enjoying this continuing story about Wonder Woman rescuing her friend Zola’s baby: the Greek god Zeus is the child’s father, and his wife Hera therfore want’s to punish Zola and the baby. And then the baby was taken away by Hermes – who embodies many things: namely speed, healing, and theft.

Further, a god named Orion –  a “New God” from the same place as Darkseid  – arrived on earth with plans that involve the latest child of Zeus.

That’s the only weakness of the story I can see: the background reading of Greek Gods and Comic Heroes of the 1970’s needed is steep at times. The good news: the comic does not expect readers to know details.

Wonder Woman #18

There are several impressive action scenes, namely a race between Hermes and Orion, a Duel between Wonder Woman and Hermes, and a battle between Posiedon and “The First Born” – Zues and Hera’s first child together, which is new mythology.

Colour and lettering work well to build an atmosphere and accent the characters poses and movement. Hermes’ weapons glow blue, and Wonder Woman‘s swords shine a deep, metallic purple – almost imperial purple.

The race to outrun the god of speed is an small epic, constructed across several panels. The sequence uses lines to effectively convey motion. lettering – the loud, large words used to indicate sound effects in comics (called Onomatopoeia) – also give a sense of speed.

Combined with blurred colours, the art team, Cliff Chiang and Goran Sudzuka with Tony Akins, Dan Green, Matthew Wilson and Jared K. Fletcher, have achieved a strong sense of movement.

The First Born’s regal, dark blue armor stands out against the aquamarine of the ocean as he fights Posiedon – refereed to simply as “Ocean”. The idea that a god is an avatar – a physical representation of a force of nature, or soceity, is a key part of the Wonder Woman comic.

Demeter – the goddess of fertility – is called “Harvest”. In this issue, however, she is also called “Nature”. Some gods represent multiple forces.

As another example, Ares is called “War”.

Nature and War face each other as Ares tries to help Wonder Woman, and rescue Zola’s baby from Demeter, who agreed to protect the child with Hermes – Who could be called “Thief” as well as “Messenger”.

It’s a spoiler to write about what happens next, however Wonder Woman is facing more challenges from the pantheon of gods than it appears, as she escapes Ares and Orion in the cover art below.

Wonder Woman #18 is published by DC Comics.