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A world of four color magic arrives every Wednesday.

Stories and adventures of heroes and villains, good versus evil.

Tales that entertain and excite by talented writers and artists.

Here are my thoughts Among The Panels.

Star Wars #1

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: John Cassaday

Publisher: Marvel
Price: $4.99

I was lucky enough to grow up with a father who had a huge love for Sci-fi and Fantasy.

He would take me to all of the really terrible, but great, movies and tell me what books he thought I would like.

I will always remember sitting in the theatre and watching him cry to the opening credits of The Lord of the Rings.

I asked him why he cried and he just looked at me and said “I have been waiting 20 years to see it and it was exactly what I wanted.”  He was also very passionate about Star Wars and he was so proud to take me to see the re-released versions when they came back to theaters.

Those moments hold a very special place for me and they have influenced the way I absorb media.

Even though I love the original Star Wars movies I never branched out to read any of the Expanded Universe that so many others love. I was also indifferent by the announcement that only the movies were cannon and all other stories written were moved to the fan fiction category. I was, however, excited to see a re-launch of the comic series under Marvel’s watchful eye because it meant that I had an easy jumping on point. Star Wars #1 is exactly what it sounds like.

The story takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Our rebel team land on a planet that houses the Empire’s biggest weapons factory. The team springs into action and sets the factory to overload but in true movie fashion, just as they are about to escape Darth Vader shows up and soon thereafter calamity ensues. The issue ends with a spectacular cliffhanger that leaves the book ready to explode.

The Good: Seeing all the familiar faces and supremely iconic vehicles made me feel right at home. The art of John Cassaday was a great mix of comic book styles and realistic character models that didn’t detract from how we already know these characters to look like. The pacing of the book was also spot-on; I didn’t find myself falling out of the story at all and after all is said and done, who doesn’t love seeing someone get his hand cut off by a light saber?

The Not So Good: The writing didn’t leave a mark on me even in the slightest. It wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t great. The story takes place in a time period where I, as the reader, know that the peril they are in isn’t real. I know they live to see the next movie. I think that’s one of the hardest things to pull off with a title like this, along with trying to please a fan base that is known to not be so forgiving.

The Verdict: A strong effort from everyone involved and I think a great start to a giant series of books coming soon out of the Marvel camp. I just hope that the story gets more compelling and goes in a way that will make me wonder what’s going to happen next instead of me already knowing that they end up fine in the end.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift #1
Writer: Meredith Gran

Artist: Carey Pietsch

Publisher: BOOM! Studios 

Price: $3.99

As far as comics based on cartoons go I think Adventure Time is one of the best and easiest to adapt.

Adventure Time has such a unique and utterly weird sense of humor that does well with a wide breathe of age groups, so why wouldn’t you want multiple comics based in the same world.  

Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift #1 is one a great new series that follows up on the last Marceline mini-series that was fun and inventive.

Meredith Gran was the author of note and the last mini-series so it makes sense to let her run with her great ideas again!

The bulk of the story is about Marceline having a life crisis while Princess Bubblegum tries to understand a question that no one asked her.

The Good: The humor in this book is exactly what you are used to if you are a fan of Adventure Time and it keeps you giggling from page to page. Most of your favorite characters show up to drop a couple of awesome language bombs all over the page but the bulk of the story is actually pretty deep. Marceline is bummed out that her life has gone stale since she does that same thing every day and it has extinguished her song writing fire. Just as her anger comes to a head she is attacked by some kind of electric force.

On the other side of the issue Princess Bubblegum is working on some kind of machine that is unexplained until Marceline shows up. After a couple of sad events the Princess has to choose between letting the now dangerously electrified Marceline go or blast her into space to save the kingdom. It was actually a really sad and powerful moment.

The Not So Good: There wasn’t much “not so good” in this book but I did have a slight problem with some of the art. The characters all look great but there were a couple of times throughout the book where the art was a little inconsistent. Just the line depth and how some of the characters lost a little bit of clarity that was pretty noticeable but overall this book is exactly what you would expect from an Adventure Time title.

The Verdict: I really enjoyed this comic just like I have really enjoyed a lot of the Adventure Time comics coming out of BOOM! Studios. They keep the weirdness alive and spirt of the cartoon is present on every single page. The mix of cartoon visual with a couple of existential questions makes this book exciting and worth reading. You would be doing yourself a big favor by picking up a copy of this book!

Score: 4 out of 5

A Voice in the Dark: Get Your Gun #2

Writer: Larime Taylor

Artist: Larime Taylor

Publisher: Top Cow Productions 

Price: $3.99

The first issue of A Voice in the Dark: Get Your Gun came out way back in September and I had almost forgotten all about until I saw it pop up in my “to read” feed.

After reading this issue I remembered how awesome the first issue was and how great the story still is.

At the end of the comic the writer explains why there was such a long break between issues and after you read it it’s hard to be upset.

Issue #2 picks right up where the last one left off and it takes it down a different path for our duo of serial killers.

The Good: This story is still one of the most original comics I have ever read. The construct of two serial killers trying to figure out why they do what they do is so interesting. The fact that our main character, Zoey, isn’t sure what kind of disorder she is inflicted with makes her so dynamic and different. When you stop and think about what makes a sociopath or a psychopath tick, versus how anyone else could become a serial killer, it kind of sends chills down my spine.

This issue also tackles Zoey’s feelings against Rio and how this is the first time she has ever even thought about romantic feelings. The stuff with the detective that is tracking Zoey down was also pure gold. Corruption and intrigue are always great story telling tools.

The Not So Good: The book starts with a flashback to Zoey as a child and one of her first impressions of death. The dialogue is important and helpful but the art takes a step back. The art in the first issue and in the second half of this issue is really inventive and cool but these first couple of pages are such a drastic difference that really takes you out of it.

It looks closer to a mock-up of what the pages should look like then a final product. I actually had to go back and read the first issue again to make sure I wasn’t crazy.

The Verdict: The first issue was great and this issue is just more of the same This is something I want to own as soon as it is all finished. The writer promises that this arc will be completed and I have faith that it will.

Hopefully the next issue doesn’t take as many months to complete but because of the health issues and the financial situation of the writer I can’t be made if it does. This book is way worth the wait!

Score: 4 out of 5

Conan Red Sonja #1

Writer: Gail Simone, Jim Zub

Artist: Dan Panosian

Publisher: Dark Horse
Price: $3.99

Conan has been a fixture in my life since I was a very small child.

My father was and still is a huge fan of the original books and he forced me them on from a very young age.

He also pushed the movies and cartoons on me as well, I’m honestly not mad because that type of high fantasy is super cool as an adult and the nostalgia keeps it important to me.

I honestly haven’t read a Conan comic in close to 15 years, so I was excited to get the chance to dive into Conan Red Sonja #1.

This first issue is about a really scary seed that has the power to devour an entire village with its creepy red tendrils.

Someone has hired Red Sonja and Conan separately to steal these seeds from a young and corrupt prince. They come head to head in his chambers late one night and then the story gets really good!

The Good: Gail Simone and Jim Zub do a smashing job in churning out a great script here. The pacing is awesome and the set-up to get these two amazing characters together is perfect. Both our heroes, if that’s what you can call them, show us exactly who they are in just a couple of pages each. I did feel like Red Sonja got more face-time but it worked well in her favor!

The art of Dan Panosian is also perfect for this book. His style is gritty and bold and really brings you into the brutal world that Conan and Red Sonja are known to exist. The action scenes are stellar and watching Conan get whooped by Red Sonja is a real treat.

The Not So Good: Honestly this book is supremely well put together. I couldn’t find anything bad to say even if I wanted to; the writing, good, the art great, and the overall story from beginning to end, fantastic.

The Verdict: I love it when writers and artists hit their mark and this book is a perfect example of how well a team can work together. I don’t know if it was the nostalgia or something else, but this book really made me happy. It wasn’t the best book I have ever read but it stirred something inside of me and spurred my love for these types of stories. I’m glad I got the chance to read this book and I hope it does the same thing for someone else.

Score: 5 out of 5

Rat Queens Special: Braga #1

Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe

Artist: Tess Fowler

Publisher: Image
Price: $2.99

I have not read any of the Rat Queens comics before today and I am not sure if I ever will.

I sometimes choose what I am going to read by what others are reading.

I read a lot of great reviews for this comic and I thought that it was worth taking a chance on.

The story itself is a bit confusing but I think that might be because I have no background to jump into. I thought that it, being a #1, would be an easy jumping in point but I think I might have been wrong or maybe it just is a tough comic to get into.

The Good: The art was really impressive. The character designs made Orcs as a race seem much cooler than they have ever been. They were not just green drooling weirdo’s they had souls and could talk and read and be much more than just a stereotypes like in other fantasy stories. The coloring was also great and fitting for the story. This book colored a little darker than most, but it adds an extra layer of emotion that might not have been there otherwise.

The Not So Good: The writing is a little off putting for me. I might be missing something but I don’t understand how the characters that are set in a fantasy world but use language that is not fitting at all. The way the characters drop F-Bombs all the time kind of detract from what is trying to be said. I have always been the type of writer and reader that if the word being said doesn’t help the story move forward it doesn’t need to be there.

Using the F-word a couple of times in the heat of battle or as your dying breath makes sense but just saying it while casually talking to your Orc buddy around the fire doesn’t seem relevant unless you are trying to convey that maybe one character using bad language all the time and it’s just kind of his thing. That I could understand but all of the characters in this book are foul mouthed so it doesn’t make sense to me.

 I also don’t understand how our main character is a busty half naked orc in the beginning of the story but when she tells her tale she is a young male prince. This is where I think I missed something along the way.

The Verdict: The art overpowers the writing for me in this book and I think it hurt my overall feeling towards the series. I just don’t think I could ever really get behind a book that feels this weird. I can see the merit but I just don’t understand what others like about it.

Maybe it’s just not my cup of tea. I wasn’t going to review this book but I felt that I needed to be honest and I couldn’t shake the feeling it gave me after reading several other comics. Sometimes I just don’t understand what people see that I can’t!

Score: 2.5 out of 5

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