POWER OF THE VALKYRIE #1
Written by Darren G. Davis and Nick Schley and Drawn by Craig Yeung
Published by Arcana Comics
REPRINTED FROM CWR 2.0
A young surgeon finds her life turned upside down when a conflict between the Norse gods spills into her life in VALKYRIE, a generally pleasant and attractively drawn miniseries. Susan takes her job so seriously that she’s alienating colleagues and getting herself suspended, but that isn’t the worst of her problems. Instead, she has to contend with being stalked by Loki and a rogue valkyrie for a sword and power she doesn’t even know she possesses. Plus, she’s inadvertently destroyed her alarm clock and there’s a good chance she’ll miss her next shift at the hospital if she forgets to replace it.
VALKYRIE goes down pretty easy, in good part due to Susan being an appealing person. We all want medical care from someone who cares as much as her. They also manage to dress her reasonably and not put her in Witchblade/whore garb, even when the valkyrie spirit finally arrives. Unfortunately, the creative team struggles to write and draw the men in the story, giving the book its weakest moments; none of them feel like much more than cardboard plot contrivances, including the Norse pantheon.
The production quality is solid, and the colors jump off the page, making this a fine-looking book as well as one that does a solid job of entertain. Worth keeping an eye on.
THE BLACKBEARD LEGACY 1
Written by Eric Arvin and Drawn by Nicolas Giacondino
Published by Bluewater Comics
Hanna, Blackbeard’s daughter, is doing her best to live up to the legacy of her old man. She’s captain of her own ship, leading a band of female pirates across the high seas in search of booty (the kind in treasure chests). Hanna and her crew are also on the run from a fellow pirate, Purloin- Hanna used her… feminine wiles… and scammed the old coot out of his share of a deal they made. But her first obstacle is the wicked storm she’s sailed her ship into, and the growing unease of a crew that is terrified and perhaps ready to revolt. But the daughter of the greatest pirate ever isn’t going to back down… to nature or anyone else.
It would have been easy for Arvin to make LEGACY a piss take on pirate comics; a ship manned by only women is right behind “women in prison” flicks for skin and lesbian hijinx potential. However, the writer plays it straight, developing Hanna as a ruthless character with a streak of cruelty that’s almost demanded of her because of her position of power. Indeed, there isn’t really much in the way of real action in the story, mostly set-up for the longer tale, but you don’t lose interest because you’re drawn into discovering what kind of person this pirate really is.
The one place the book could have used a pick-me-up is on the art side, as Giacondino is a bit inconsistent in his storytelling and there’s a lack of flow to some of the panel work. Still, this has the potential to be a solid book for Bluewater and I’ll be paying attention.
20 MILLION MILES MORE 2-3
Written by Scott Davis and Drawn by Alex Garcia
Published by Bluewater Comics
One of Bluewater Comics’ primary publishing initiatives is their work with the legendary Ray Harryhausen. Along with this book, they are publishing a number of comics hat serve as sequels to the great mater’s film work. WRATH OF THE TITANS, a follow-up to CLASH, has turned out to be a solid effort, using its script to explain to newcomers what’s happening along the way. Unfortunately, this book cannot say the same for itself.
Readers familiar with my reviews will know that I always begin by offering a summary of the plot in my opening paragraph and that happens to be missing here. Why? Because as I read these, I had no idea what was going on. Nada.
Sure, I pieced some of it together. A mission to Venus gone wrong, horrible creatures that came back to Earth, some experiments gone wrong. But by jumping in at issue two, I was lost, which was unnecessary.
I’ve gone on this tangent with other books before, but I’ll say it again: every issue of a comic has the potential to be someone’s first (that was Jim Shooter’s credo as EIC of Marvel, by the way). A front-cover recap is an absolute must. Even Marvel does it these days. If you haven’t seen the original movie (I haven’t) or read issue one (I haven’t), it’s imperative to give the new reader a chance to enter the world of your comic and understand it. Otherwise, you’re limiting your audience. After all, if they can’t understand issue two, why would they go back and buy issue one?
What’s in these issues is executed at a competent, professional level, but I had trouble seeing what was on the page beyond that. Even some on-panel exposition (“My Name is Wally West. I’m the fastest man alive, etc.”) would have done the trick of creating a door for the reader. Instead, I feel it would be more pertinent to wait for a trade collection and see it in its entirety.
LOST RAVEN VOL 1
Written by Darren G. Davis and Drawn by Renato Arlem and Sean Murphy
Published by Bluewater Comics
Zak Raven seems to have it all. He’s a successful attorney rising quickly through the ranks at his firm. He’s making good cheddar. He’s good looking and can count on his choice of women. But all that goes down the drain one day when he’s given a brutal diagnosis by his doctor: he’s HIV positive. Feeling like his life is over, he jettisons his practice and takes off for the high seas, emotionally destroyed. But his life isn’t over- far from it. Not even when his boat on an uncharted island. No, this island has secrets of its own- strange creatures, mysterious caves, and a population that doesn’t seem to want him to leave there alive. And that’s just when he begins to find the will to survive his disease…
LOST RAVEN is an interesting graphic novel with a lot going for it; Zak himself is a complex character, and his reaction to his diagnosis feels like a fair and honest one. And while it’s a fairly standard trope to strand someone in an odd environment to help them learn how to regain their lust for life, Davis pulls that off reasonably well here. He also gets some decent support from Renato Arlem in chapter one of the graphic novel, as Arlem delivers some terrific art. Sean Murphy finishes off the book, and his stuff is okay, but it suffers a bit in comparison to the beginning of the book.
There are a couple of issues on the story end. The purpose behind the island, and the occupants, aren’t fleshed out enough to make you really care about their mission and their reasons for wanting to make sure Zak doesn’t live to tell anyone about the place. There’s also a moment that seems like pure foreshadowing that goes nowhere, when Zak takes a chunk out of his back while moving through a cave and leaves quite a bit of his infected blood behind- that point needed some elaboration or to be excluded completely because it distracted from the rest of the scene.
Overall, though, I’d read more about the adventures of Zak Raven, HIV-positive attorney. This was a solid debut graphic novel and there’s quite a large window for a sequel.