HUCK #2 by Mark Millar & Rafael Albuquerque

 

Comics are a perfect conduit for the era that produced them. Titles like WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA, or THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS are prominent examples of comics providing windows into the social/global issues dominating the public train of thought. Even ongoing series like HELLBLAZER give you an idea of what was happening in the world when their individual issues hit shelves. In my opinion, the influence of the comic book movie boom has watered down the potential for comics to serve as this kind of outlet.

 

Comics nowadays are about are all about BIGGER! Bigger battles, bigger enemies, bigger joined universes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing…  but with all this upsizing, I wonder if my kids will read the trade papers in 20 years and try to remember if the world truly revolved around grabbing the attention of card carrying A.D.D. sufferers like their father (I won’t deny it). In reality, the world can be a nice place. There’s a lot of good happening if you choose to look beyond the flash and doom that can seem so prevalent.

 

Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque decided to do something about this. The results, so far, have been downright refreshing.

 

HUCK #2 by Mark Millar & Rafael Albuquerque

 

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The first issue of Huck was a surprise delight. It easily landed itself on my ‘Top 5 Individual Comics‘ list. This issue was actually released on December 16th so if I’d gotten to it before writing that list I may have needed to rethink my order.

 

Huck is a simple man with good values and otherworldly abilities. In this issue, his simple mission of doing one good deed a day is disrupted by his existence being revealed to the media. It’s an all-too-believable scenario with someone extraordinary being set upon by the vulturous modern media. He proves the purity of his heart by not letting any of this attention stop him from doing what he does best. My favorite moment was when Huck is swarmed by a group of desperate people turning to him for help. Rather than blowing them off or ignoring them, he grabs a pen and paper to make a list of what he must do.

 

The concept of Huck continues to defy the ‘bigger’ trend by embracing core values. Thinking of this supremely powerful being taking time to recognize even the smallest task is a joy. Leave it to Image Comics to continuously set new paths in every comic avenue. Mark Millar’s story is charming and is brought to life by Rafael Albuquerque’s consistent visual talent. I’ve felt legitimately upset after finishing each of the first two issues – upset because it seemed to end so quickly.

 

My rating of HUCK #2 is 9 out of 10. If you haven’t checked out this series yet, it’s not too late!

9 out of 10

Top 5 2015 Releases – Individual Comic Book Issues

With the 2015 nearly behind us, it’s fun to take a look back at the highlights from what came out of the year and get excited about what 2016 might bring. In regards to my ‘Top 5’ lists, please keep in mind that I am only going to list what I have personally dealt with. I’m not going to write opinions on something I haven’t experienced. Sadly, stupid adult responsibilities prevent me from spending every hour of the day reading comic books, building LEGO, playing Xbox, or watching TV/movies. With that said, there’s a very good chance I’ve missed out on something list worthy. If you think something is missing then PLEASE let me know! If there’s one thing the geeky community is good at, it’s sharing opinions. I want to hear yours!

Top 5 2015 Releases – Individual Comic Book Issues

 

I love supporting my local comic book shops. They are local establishments that are very reliant on local patronage to keep things going. This year I’ve tried to stress the importance of supporting local business and our regular visits to comic book shops have been an excellent resource. 2015 has brought multiple storylines worth following across several publishers. I’ve tried, and mostly succeeded, to keep up with the ones that really grabbed me. I went through my stack of 2015 comic conquests and picked the top five individual issues that stuck with me the most. This was not and easy task!

 

So here are my Top 5 favorite individual comic book releases from this year…..

 

(Slight spoilers for the current Justice League run – skip the runner up and #4 if you don’t want to find out.)

Runner up – Justice League #44: The Darkseid War Part 4

 

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I hadn’t planned on listing any more than five individual titles in any of my year’s best lists but this one was worth including. The Darkseid War story arc has definitely been an interesting one. Some points have been a tad ‘out there’ while others managed to satisfyingly hit on factors that make Justice League so great. This one issue is a stand out because you finally get to see the thunderous conflict between Darkseid and The Anti-Monitor. I was shocked to see Darkseid actually die! He’s come close in the past in fights with Superman and Doomsday, but this time he wasn’t so lucky. Seeing the Flash (possessed by Death/The Black Racer) punch through Darkseid’s chest like a cannonball was flat out awesome. Jason Fabok’s artwork in this entire series is phenomenal. He succeeds in bringing life to the clash of titans on each page. If you’ve missed any of The Darkseid War, and wish to check it out, I suggest you wait until the trade paper graphic novel is available. Jumping in mid-story would not only be confusing, but it would lessen the impact of moments like this issue.

 

#5 – Star Wars: Shattered Empire #2

 

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I’ve already done a write up of the full SHATTERED EMPIRE storyline so I won’t go too deep on this one. The series was good, not as great as many Star Wars nuts may want, but still good enough to read. I will establish the second issue in the arc as one of my favorites because of its battle scenes. Overall, Star Wars battles are fought in space (it’s right there in the title). The few ground battles like Hoth or Endor (the forest moon, that is), feature vehicles and weapons that are the highlight of epic toy fights from childhood. SHATTERED EMPIRE #2 combined all of those elements into a dramatic war scene with an AT-AT stomping through a city with a swarm of TIE Fighters and A-Wings overhead. A squadron of Y-Wings swoops in dropping a wave of magnetic mines that attach to the AT-AT like explosive parasites. It’s a very, very cool scene portrayed with top-notch artwork. I also liked the creepy post-mortem messenger sent by the Emperor to relay is final nefarious orders.

 

#4 – The Darkseid War: Batman

 

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The fallout from Darkseid’s fall reminds me of the clusterfuckery that followed DEATH OF SUPERMAN. Now the Justice League are “gods”? What the hell? Fortunately, some of the one-off stories work very well. Batman’s issue is definitely the standout (big surprise). It carries the strength of a one-off storyline while keeping ties to the current arc.

 

Now “The God of Knowledge”, Batman returns to Gotham to get back to basics. I love that he can still effectively be a vigilante will never getting up from his chair (the all seeing/knowing Mobius Chair). I respect any crime fighter that can do it while sitting. Extra-All Knowing Batman is more ruthless than ever and uses the Mobius Chair to give Gotham the hero he believes it deserves. I absolutely love how he handled Joe Chill. Rather than killing the thug who forever altered his life, he put the fear of “the boogeyman” into him in order to make the unpleasant realities of prison even more terrifying. If you come across The Darkseid War: Batman, be sure to pick it up.

 

#3 – Huck #1

 

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Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque make a great team. Millar has the vision and Albuquerque has the style to use all of the Image Comics prowess to create a unique experience. Huck, the tail of a simple minded hero in our busy world, is down right charming. His origin is familiar but stripped down to the core theme of doing right by other people. Superman, an oh-so-familiar orphan, lives two exciting lives in adulthood – one of a globe trotting reporter and also as the most powerful being ever known. Then you have the mysteriously orphaned Huck – a normal guy raised to do one good deed a day. That’s it! No ulterior motives, no gradiouse plots. Just one good deed for people who may not even know they need it. Thanks to his super abilities, Huck’s good deeds are often performed on a fantastic scale with the only thing asked in return is to not tell anyone it was him who helped. The story is a refreshing read. I can’t wait to see where future issues will take the gentle hero.

 

#2 – Superman: American Alien

 

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I previously did a full writeup of Superman: American Alien #1 and thus won’t get too deep into it here. It’s worth restating that this is a fantastic instance of DC thinking outside of the box. Their ability to take one of the most established characters in pop culture and find a fresh way to tell stories of his past. The second issue came out almost a week ago. I’m kicking myself for not getting out to the comic book store yet for a copy.

 

#1 – Batman #44

 

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I love, love this comic. One day I want to get my issue autographed and frame it (next to our framed/signed copies of WYTCHES #1). The creative team behind it bats a hundred with me and I simply cannot get enough. My review at the time it was first published goes into my reasoning deeper so I’ll try not to gush here. What I can say now in retrospect, is that of all 2015’s great comic titles, nothing could top the Dark Knight in issue #44. Jock’s style is one of a kind. Scott Snyder understands comics and what makes them great. Together they are unstoppable. It doesn’t matter if you’re up to speed with the current Batman story arc with the creepy Mr. Bloom – find this and read it!

 

What comics were your favorites from this year? Did I miss anything? If I did, PLEASE let me know! It can be very difficult to keep up with the never ending flow of good comics out there. I know for a fact that I’ve missed out on some highlights.

WYTCHES by Scott Snyder & Jock, Volume 1

I was already a big fan of Scott Snyder and Jock from their individual work and their prior partnerships (BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR is incredible). This collaboration somehow slipped by my radar completely. It was my wife who heard about this one and tracked it down at our local Barnes & Noble. After reading it in about one sitting, she strongly insisted I bump it to the top of my reading list so we could talk about it….. Must she ALWAYS be right?? Yes, apparently she must.

WYTCHES by Scott Snyder & Jock, Volume 1

Scott Snyder and Jock go together like peanut butter and jelly. Their envy-striking talents complement one another in a duet of visual story telling. It is really hard to write a review of WYTCHES without stinking it up with spoilers. I think part of my enjoyment came from the fact that I went into it with literally zero prior knowledge. What I can say is this volume boasts a multifaceted brilliance that gripped my attention from the front cover to the back. It’s not perfect (because no story is perfect) but it is pretty damn close.

The idea is fairly original in the graphic novel world. Imagining an ancient evil lurking throughout the woods that thrives on the inevitable qualities mankind possess is downright unnerving. Jock’s spindly, monstrous interpretation of Snyder’s idea will remain in your thoughts with every shadow or around every dark corner. The horror link is supported by imagery and relatability rather than simply showing gore or violence. Connections between characters feel genuine; parents especially will experience an extra element of tension as the pages progress.

I also really enjoyed Scott Snyder’s musings at the back of the novel. His explanation of the story’s personal origin made me want to jump right back to the front to read it again. Knowing how his own experiences and the relationship with his own children helped inspire WYTCHES gives it a rare depth that your average Superhero story lacks.

My rating of WYTCHES, Volume 1 is a rare 9.5 out of 10 because PLEDGED IS PLEDGED!

9 out of 10

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Scott – I was already a fan of your work…. Now I’m a fan of your work that wants to buy you a drink and give you a hug. Thanks for sharing your visions with the rest of us!

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