This week on the Wal-Tor Weekly Review, we take a look at a paranormal investigator with “Wolf”, DC Comics’ Cyborg gets his first ever solo series with “Cyborg”, and we get another Secret Wars tie-in with “Star Lord and Kitty Pryde”.
Set in a dreary, drought-ridden California, “Wolf” follows Antonie Wolfe, a paranormal detective with plenty of unusual quirks. Wolfe is immortal and capable of communing with specific dead people, using these gifts to help other paranormal beings with whatever conflicts they face. Things gets difficult for Wolfe when an old man seeks to use his talents to better himself, with the intent of finding a way to kill him once he’s used Wolfe for what he needs. Meanwhile, Wolfe’s friend, Freddy, comes looking for help, hoping that Wolfe could help him deal with a group of vampires that are his landlords, continually raising rent prices to make life for Freddy miserable. On top of all this a young teenage girl gets wrapped up in a grisly murder, setting this young lady up to be something far more than she initially appears to be.
Ales Kot and Matt Taylor create the ever bizarre series “Wolf”. Conceptually, the ideas and language Kot brings to the table is not only truly fascinating but intelligent as well. With Kot’s style of writing there is plenty of subtext for a reader to pick up on, with said subtext tackling important social topics right underneath you nose. Kot has broad ideas on politics and religion, of which he doesn’t shy away from with his writing. This shines through in a plot that is a little bit scrambled up but still enjoyable. Ales Kot chooses an odd pace for his plot to unfold at, sitting far to long on some of the big “tricks” he wants to use to keep the plot interesting. You get the sense that the over sized format of the issue actually hurts the narrative instead of giving it more room to breathe, as Kot chooses to continually push back the big, key moments that tell you what this series is about. Matt Taylor, along with colourist Lee Loughridge, bring a drought-stricken California to life beautifully, combining clean line work with a vibrant and light colour palette. Taylor doesn’t really get to draw anything exceptional with this issue, instead he’s relegated to a lot of facial work. It’s a bit disappointing that, with all the hints towards paranormal things in the issue, Taylor isn’t ever really allowed to let loose and draw something dynamic. Even still, the artwork is more than solid and clean.
|+ Interesting concepts||— Oddly paced plot|
|+ Over sized issue||— Intentionally plays coy|
|+ Clean line work, soft colour palette|
Wolf #1 is a comic that reads as if it’s embarrassed to embrace it’s clearly bizarre nature. Instead of being outright weird, like it clearly is and should be, the plot meanders along hinting at peculiar things while waiting far too long to actually outright show or tell you about them. Kot brings a lot of really cool ideas to the table but seems to hold himself back, largely due to the odd pace of the plot. Matt Taylor, along with Lee Loughridge on the colours, does a great job of illustrating the California setting of this comic. Taylor’s line work is crisp and clean all the way through but it’s a bit disappointing that he isn’t ever allowed to let loose and get really weird in a book with this sort of premise to it. Even though “Wolf” feels as though it’s afraid to pull the trigger, this issue still brings enough strong concepts to the table to warrant a read or two.
Ever since he first became a “superhero”, Cyborg has had one constant in his life; his father. His father was there on the day he nearly died and that is what lead to him becoming Cyborg. Then a few years later, again on the cusp of death, Silas Stone yet again rebuilt his son, giving him an upgrade and saving his life. But recently, upon being fatally injured for a third time, something peculiar happened to Cyborg. Succumbing to recent injuries, Cyborg did in fact perish, only to have his operating systems enter a self-repairing protocol that essentially brought him back to life. With this new discovery about his powers, Cyborg turns to his neglectful father for answer, discovering that his body is seemingly in a constant state of evolution. Meanwhile, on the far side of the galaxy, two technological forces appear to be waging a war against each other, with one side clearly setting it’s sights towards Cyborg and Earth.
David Walker and Ivan Reis launch the first ever solo Cyborg series…and they fumble with the takeoff unfortunately. David Walker appears to struggle with the direction he wants to take the story, cutting between a war in a far away galaxy and Cyborg’s daddy issues. Walker shows he has a clear understanding of the character Cyborg, realizing that the character’s relationship with his father is one of the core characteristics of the character, but he spends so much time focusing on how “invisible” Cyborg feels around his father that no real developments happen with the plot. There’s clearly a long game in place from Walker, but it’s one that seems like it’s literally still a galaxy away. Ivan Reis has always been an absolute professional while being a key member of DC Comics’ artist roster and that doesn’t change here. Reis artwork is as strong as ever, giving Cyborg a slight visual overhaul and balancing out the appearance as well as storytelling for both plots nicely. Anytime Ivan Reis gets to draw any sort of weird alien or outer space creature you can pretty much assume that he’ll knock the ball out of the park, which he does with ease during this first issue.
|+ Establishes emotional core of lead character||— Aimless|
|+ Ivan Reis artwork||— Choppy plot|
|+ Decent intro to characters|
Cyborg is a series that has the genuine promise of being a stellar book down the road because of its strong creative team, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to this first issue. David Walker gets consumed with trying to highlight the emotional core of the lead character, which he does successfully, that he leaves a lot to be desired from the other elements of the story. Walker clearly understands Cyborg, which is enough for this first issue as you can only hope he’ll expand the (thus far) weak plot going forward. In spite of this, this issue is still a decent enough introduction to Cyborg and a few key figures in his life that it’ll make you want to come back for more next month. Ivan Reis is just a fantastic artists and that remains the case with this issue as he does a nice update to Cyborg’s look that makes sense with the direction this series appears to be heading. Whether it’s Earth-bound emotions or outer space baddies, you’re always in for a treat with Reis on art. As I said before, this is a great creative team that has promise to make Cyborg a genuinely entertaining series, let’s hope they stick the landing with the next issue.
Star Lord and Kitty Pryde #1
Following the events of Secret Wars #4 (spoiler alert), the last surviving members of the old Marvel Universe are scattered across the regions of Battleworld, with Star Lord landing in a different type of Manhattan. To remain undiscovered and out of the view of Lord Doom’s agents, Peter Quill has taken up a new identity, pretending to be Steve Rogers as a way to blend in and pay his respects to the former Captain America. Peter takes up a job as a “show tune” singer, doing classic covers of Disney movie songs (nice one Marvel). But, unsurprisingly, hiding in plain sight is no fun for Quill as he longs to see the love of his life, Kitty Pryde, one more time. Kitty Pryde perished with the rest of the world when Secret Wars began, leaving Peter alone by himself to cope with his losses. Things take a sudden swerve for Peter though when he sees Kitty Pryde during one of his shows. Little does Peter realize that this Kitty Pryde is far from the one he was set to be engaged to, as she is actually an agent of Lord Doom!
Sam Humphries and Alti Fermansyah tackle the tales of Star Lord on Battleworld with the first issue of “Star Lord and Kitty Pryde”. Humphries tackles the loveable hero with great poise, showing he’s as good as ever when it comes to writing Peter Quill. There’s plenty of little bits of humour thrown in by Humphries, as we get little joke takes on characters like Drax or Gambit. The series isn’t all about the laughs though as Humphries builds a fairly decent plot here as well. It’s straightforward and a little predictable but it makes sense while pushing the characters into an interesting direction. Alti Fermansyah’s style of artwork is a unique choice for this book but one that gets the job done nonetheless. Fermansyah’s style works largely during the comic bits although it also is good at guiding your eye from a storytelling aspect. Even though Alti wouldn’t have been my first choice for a book like this, he still steps up to the plate and gets the job done well.
|+ Solid plot, comedic||– Predictable|
|+ Decent artwork|
|+ Different take on loved characters|
While Star Lord and Kitty Pryde #1 isn’t a home run, it most definitely isn’t a strike out either. Sam Humphries and Alti Fermansyah give us a series that is just solid all around, never really breaking the mold in terms of creativity but also not being a revolting monstrosity either. Instead the series just kind of plays it safe, as Humphries tackles predictable story conventions in a fun way. There are more than a few different takes on characters we know and love that end up being fun to read. This direction for Star Lord is one that will surely get the character into trouble, which is typically where the character shines the most. Alti Fermansyah ends up being a solid choice for a book where his style shines during the over-the-top comedic beats. Again, there’s no home run being hit in the art department but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in an issue that is supposed to introduce you to the premise of the series going forward. Star Lord and Kitty Pryde #1 is great for any fans of the Guardians Of The Galaxy or Star Lord specifically. Or fans of “The Little Mermaid”…bonus points for that one Humphries.