Staff Picks – Week of 11/06/2014

Tom Beland (w / a)

Taylor says: IDW are a strange publisher in that they’re built on big non-comics franchises, but often publish work from way outside the mainstream, like whatever Sam Keith wants to do, or the Menton3 stuff, or Chicacabra. Tom Beland is best known for True Story, Swear to God, his comic chronicling the surprising beginning and long-distance challenges of his relationship with his true love.
Chicacabra is a different beast, a comic that’s probably 12+ in terms of age group, invested with the emotional truth and humour adults can bring to tales of youth. Isabel Sanchez is a girl who bonds with a chupacabra (kind of like a werewolf/cryptid/weird thingie; considerable licence is available to any artist drawing one), and this makes her teens, which already involve bereavement, recreational pot smoking, and furious defence of beetles’ rights to life, considerably more complex.

It’s an OGN with real heart, and a lot of laughs (like when Izzy discovers why she hasn’t been hungry recently, or the arrival of the Vejigante named Tarantino). Beland has a smooth, looping line that makes every page flow, and when he cuts loose with a transformation, or breaks a poignant page into the perfect panel structure, he is truly a master at work. I can’t recommend this enough, and if you have kids (and you’ve discussed with them the perils of drugs and/or eating neighbourhood pets), then this should be a read you can enjoy together, or apart.

She-Hulk #5
Charles Soule (w), Ron Wimberly (a)
Marvel Comics

Joe says: This is the first issue of the new series to not have Javier Pulido on art and I was curious to see how it held up. I had begun to wonder whether I was more interested in the look of the book than the story being told. This issue at least confirmed that I am enjoying Soule’s writing; his knowledge of the subject matter as well his sense of humor come together to make a thoroughly enjoyable story which is elevated by the art.
In this issue however, the change of artist is jarring. It would seem no attempt has been made to capture likenesses so characters look wildly different. Pulido’s art is confidently simple which works well with the extremely bright colour palette, whereas Wimberly’s art is scratchy and employs extreme perspective- the two styles don’t mesh.
The one artistic feature which ties this issue to the rest of the series is the colouring. Rico Renzi adopts a similar colour palette but the colours are flat, opposed to regular series colourist, Muntsa Vicente, whose work is a lot more tonal.
Overall the issue was enjoyable and when considering that Wimberly is taking over art duties for the next arc, the concerns that I have with it seem trivial. It keeps the sense of fun and adds energy. Perhaps it was the lack of a solid resolution to the last arc that makes this issue feel more like an interruption than a start to a new storyline, in any case, the series continues to be entertaining.

Uncanny X-Men Special #1
Sean Ryan (w), Ron Ackins (a)
Marvel Comics

Liz says: This first installment of the “No End In Sight” storyline (a three issue crossover between the Uncanny X-Men, Iron Man and Nova) reeled me right in with an engaging script and standout art from the creative team of Sean Ryan and Ron Ackins. I went in unfamiliar with both of these guys, and I am now determined to check out more of their work. The story itself looks like a fairly basic hijinks-in-space, of the good fun variety. Ryan’s script is well-paced and entertaining, setting the plot on course with an amusing kidnapping-gone-wrong scenario featuring everyone’s favourite intergalactic bounty hunter, Death’s Head. Ackins style is a really great fit, and one that really appeals to my tastes: expressive faces, fine flowing lines reminiscent of artists like Emma Rios and Wes Craig. It’s really pretty. So, color me impressed, and looking forward to the next segment!

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