Mind the Gap #11 published by Image Comics
Elle is in a coma, and everyone is trying to figure out who put her there. Everyone is a suspect and no one is innocent. This is the idea behind Mind the Gap. Throw in some supernatural elements and some shady and oddly named groups, and you have an even greater mystery than before.
As the story begins, there are a couple of pages to bring new readers up to date on the story so far. There’s a cast of characters, group affiliations, motivations, plotlines, etc, all listed in an easy to read style. Then, we jump into the story as Elle is trapped in The Garden, and all the other spirits there want her help, whether she’s in a helpful mood or not. In the real world, Elle’s brother Eddie and the “Hoodies” form a plan of their own as Elle’s mother and a mysterious group known as Jairus have other plans.
Jim McCann is a great writer and it shows in this issue. He’s able to juggle the multiple storylines in a way that doesn’t seem overloaded. The art from Sami Basri is great as well. It’s very smooth and cinematic and balances the real world and the supernatural in a great way.
For new readers, this is a tricky situation. While the first few pages give you a good basis, there’s a lot of fine detail and chronology in the issue that is lost without reading the previous issues. Characters mention things offhandedly that you have no former knowledge of. It’s a bit confusing. While a good read, it’s not the most new-reader-friendly.
Parental Concern: Mild. A bit of language and strange supernatural things.
Indestructible Hulk #9 published by Marvel Comics
Mark Waid has been working his magic on Daredevil and once he took over for Hulk it was an often talked about thing to have the two titles meet. In this issue, the two Waid-penned characters meet as friends, lawyer/client, and crime-fighting teammates.
Bruce Banner has reached an agreement with S.H.I.E.L.D. They get to use the Hulk as a weapon in bad situations as long as they provide Bruce with the resources to change the world. Bruce builds; Hulk destroys. In addition to that, once a week Bruce makes a call to a mysterious person, letting him know that he’s being treated well and everything goes according to plan. In this issue, it’s finally revealed to be none other than Matt Murdock/Dardevil that Bruce calls so often. When a powerful weapon is taken from an Agence Byzantine ship, Hulk and Daredevil team up to track it down and keep it from falling into the wrong hands.
Waid and artist Matteo Scalera put together a story that is instantly accessible and is tons of fun. Waid combines the street-level charm of Daredevil and the dichotomous relationship that is Banner/Hulk and makes a fun adventure for both. It was a nice touch to see Daredevil’s strong relationship with Bruce having a strong affect on his interactions with Hulk. Scalera’s art is a bit different than a normal Hulk style, but really gives the characters a nice look.
For new readers, this is a good book. Waid introduces the core concept of the series and the background information all within the first few pages, but makes it a part of the story. It doesn’t feel like it was put there because it had to be, but rather because that’s what belonged there.
Parental Concern: Mild. Violence, mostly.
Wild Blue Yonder #1 published by IDW Publishing
The world is overrun by radiation and pollution, so the people that can take to the sky to escape it all. Those that can’t stick to the ground, providing resources to those in the sky, hoping to one day be amongst the clouds. This is the very idea of Wild Blue Yonder.
Cola, a young pilot, lands at The Peak, a mountaintop bar, looking for a new gunner. It seems the last one died in a fight with the Judge and his fleet, the deadliest fleet in the sky. A young man named Tug has been hanging around the bar and is looking for a change of pace, which might just come in the clouds. Before they can even make it back to the ship, they find that the Judge is attacking Cola’s ship. In the midst of a firefight, Tug meets fellow crewmembers and learns how to be a gunner. Cola’s mom is distraught, but everyone lives, though not for long if the Judge has anything to do with it.
Mike Raicht, Zach Howard and Austin Harrison are responsible for the story of Wild Blue Yonder, while Howard alone tackles the art. The story is something that isn’t done too often in comics, but it’s done well in this one. There is a some untold wounds among the crew and a lot of interesting backstory that is sure to come, but the story told in this first issue is more than enough to pull a reader in. Howard’s artwork is great both for the mellow barroom scenes and fast-paced, aerial battles.
As a first issue, this is great book for new readers to pick up. As a completely new series, there is no companion work needed to understand the world created in this book. The story itself does a great job of presenting this new world in an easy to digest way.
Parental Concern: Mild. Violence, language.
Animal Man #21 published by DC Comics
After the events of the last few issues, Buddy Baker is left a broken man. His wife and daughter have moved out and his son is dead. It’s only after a string of strange animal abductions that Buddy once again dons his Animal Man costume and does some heroics.
Buddy is still reeling from the death of his son and his wife and daughter leaving. He’s retreated from the public eye and appears to have taken to drinking, even as he garners award show attention for his documentary. It’s his agent who convinces him that getting out a bit might be a good thing, as Buddy begins to look into the recent rash of animal abductions in the area. Meanwhile, his daughter is attempting to bring her dead brother back, unbeknownst to anyone else.
Jeff Lemire and Steve Pugh have received great reviews for previous issues, but I felt this one fell a bit flat. Lemire’s usual storytelling prowess seems to be lacking in this particular issue. Pugh’s art is good, but it’s Francis Portela’s art for the “Red” that really stands out. The issue seems to refer to previous events quite a bit too, while never properly explaining most of them. What killed Buddy’s son? This is never answered, but is definitely a cause for his wife leaving him.
For new readers, it may be best to catch up via trades first. This issue just doesn’t set a good enough foundation for the previous, nor is it the usual high-quality work that the creators are usually known for.
Parental Concern: Moderate. Freaky animal monsters and some blood/guts.