This week on the Wal-Tor Weekly Review, we’ve got all kinds of new stuff from a slew of different publisher. From Marvel, the new and highly anticipated Black Widow series kicks off. Over at Boom!, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers kicks into action. Finally, Image Comics launches The Discipline.
Black Widow #1
Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. The Black Widow, races through a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, having just stolen a mysterious object from the powerful agency. S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill doesn’t pull any punches with her on-again-off-again ally, requesting that she be stopped by any means necessary. This all gives way to a high-speed chase that takes Black Widow from the skies over New York through the busy streets of the city itself.
Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matt Wilson, the critically acclaimed team behind the recent Daredevil run, all team back up to gift the comic world with a fast-paced spy thriller in Black Widow. Much like their Daredevil run, Waid and Samnee are splitting storytelling duties, with the art (unsurprisingly) being a huge part of the story they set out to tell. What we’re given is page upon page of high-octane action that perfectly highlights the exciting life that the super spy Black Widow leads. Light on plot and dialogue, this issue is clearly a showcase for the skillful artwork of Chris Samnee, but more on that in a second. The plot lacks a little something, be it meaningful dialogue to guide the direction of the tale or just a true direction itself, at some point you get diminishing returns when a comic feels like a Michael Bay movie on every single page. Yes, it’s exciting and gorgeous to look at on a base level but when you try to sink into the “why?” of it all, you will be left with few answers. Mark Waid is the master of twenty page stories, so it just feels disappointing to be left in the dark throughout this one and made to feel as though you need to pick up the next issue to get even the smallest of answers.
It’s evident that Chris Samnee does a lot of the heavy lifting for this issue, both in terms of plot and artwork. Samnee’s artwork paired with Matt Wilson’s colours is just awe-inspiring, with Wilson using soft shades of colours, in sharp contrast to his work on Daredevil, that just works marvelously for a series like Black Widow. There is a lot of red in this issue, which shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s the dynamic use of the colour for several different situations that really stands out. Samnee’s artwork itself is top-notch, delivering a gorgeous high-speed chase for the entire issue that wouldn’t feel out-of-place as the opening sequence in a movie starring Black Widow. It’s true that Samnee falls back on his art to do a large portion of the storytelling which is definitely where one of this issue finds its strength. The ease of reading this issue is unlike anything on shelves right now, even if the final product of the plot is slightly underwhelming.
+Artwork Drives Story
Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matt Wilson are still dynamite together on Black Widow. Waid serves as an “overseer” of sorts on this series, as it is abundantly clear that this is largely Chris Samnee’s show to run. His artwork is the key component of the storytelling to this issue, with the dialogue and overall plot lacking some real grip to it. The artwork itself is beautiful, with Wilson’s colouring only making it all the more beautiful. It’s a little disappointing how the plot feels to this first issue, which is a breeze to read, but with a creative team as strong as this one, having hope that the story improves with the second issue isn’t misplaced.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1
The Power Rangers are here to protect the world from the evil Rita Repulsa, so long as they aren’t serving detention at Angel Grove High. Tommy Oliver, The Green Ranger, is the new kid in town. Having formerly been an ally of Rita’s, Tommy was recently turned over to fight alongside the Power Rangers. Now he struggles to keep control of his mind and body as he still hasn’t broken the influence Rita once had on him. Meanwhile, Bulk and Skull continue their attempts to impress everyone at Angel Grove High.
Picking up in the middle of the popular live action series from the early 1990’s, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a modern update to the popular television series as it makes a leap into an ongoing comic series. Kyle Higgins and Hendry Prasetya handle the main story of this series while Steve Orlando and Corin Howell tackle the backup featuring Bulk and Skull. This first issue is a bit of a mixed bag, failing to strike the same chord that the dynamic issue zero did. It doesn’t feel new reader friendly, even though it spends three pages of exposition trying to catch readers up to the events that have transpired so far in the series. For people who never watched Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, you’ll feel lost and out-of-place. The series essentially falls back on the expectation that you will know these characters personalities and histories before you even sit down to read this issue. This results in a general disconnect from the characters along with the poor execution of establishing your lead villain in Rita.
The artwork for the lead story also feels rushed, with scenes where you get close-ups on your characters looking great but the scenes in between that meandering to mediocrity at best. The main story’s colours, by Matt Herms, are an overall highlight to the story as everything on the page is vibrant and pops. Through the colouring process Herms makes it abundantly clear which character is which ranger, even in the most subtle of ways. The Bulk and Skull short story at the back is a nice cool down at the end of the issue. Steve Orlando gets the two characters down well, with the fluidity of the dialogue guiding you along with ease. The cartoonish style of the art by Corin Howell suits the comedic nature of the two page story, making it easy to find it all light and enjoyable.
+Bulk and Skull back up
+Lots Of Content
–Not New Reader Friendly
–Soft Plot Goes Nowhere
Longtime fans of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers will be able to forgive the pitfalls that this first issue faces. If you’re someone who has never watched Power Rangers before but wants to get into this series, go watch the show first as this first issue doesn’t do that great of a job explaining anything. Higgins doesn’t really introduce his cast at all in this issue, expecting you to have past knowledge of all these characters before reading this series. Hendry Prasetya’s artwork is just a little too rough when you look beyond his decent close up work, making the story feel unfinished and rushed. The true highlight of this issue is the colouring by Matt Herms, who is a clear, distinct part of the art through this first issue. I recommend trying to track down the zero issue of this series first before reading issue one as that issue captured how to do a Power Rangers series right. This series isn’t a write-off after the first issue but it certainly needs to take some steps in the right direction with issue two.
The Discipline #1
Melissa Peake is an intelligent but unfulfilled young lady, seeking more from her love life and loveless marriage. Most of her afternoons are spent looking at an erotic painting or talking to her dog Hemingway. This all changes one evening when she meets a mysterious young man named Orlando while staring at said painting. He awakens something primal in her and piques her interest, causing her to consider having an affair with him. From there, things get bizarre in a series that feels like it’s the comic equivalent of Fifty Shades of Grey with hairy monsters and lizard people.
Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez provide readers with a sexy and weird series in The Discipline. The Discipline is a mature series, doing plenty of dirty things throughout this first issue to deserve that tag. Milligan starts this issue off in a way that makes it seem like it was a rejected script for Fifty Shade of Grey before going even further down the rabbit hole. He introduces the character of Melissa Peake quickly and immediately makes her an interesting lead. It’s when we get to the character of Orlando that everything starts to feel forced, moving too quickly and not clearly enough for this story to make any real sense. The plot itself sputters along from one moment to the next, unconvincing in its execution, as it is hard to commit to the unfolding events due to a lack of emotional connection to the characters.
Leandro Fernandez provides some solid art throughout, making plenty of pages that are as scandalous as they are obtuse. His use of shading and shadows is high point of the issue as it helps to further the themes at play in the book, making everything feel dirty and dark. One of the only downsides to his art is the awkward way he draws hands at times, making you wonder why a young twenty-three year old woman has a left hand that looks like the talon of a bird, especially when it has nothing to do with the story.
+Dark And Weird
+Excellent Use Of Shadows
–Lack Of Connection To Characters
Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez try to do something different with The Discipline but it just misses the mark. The dark, sexy, and odd series is sure to appeal to some fans of Miligan’s past work but he tries to move to quickly with this first issue. As a result, you can’t really connect with any characters and you’re left asking yourself what is really going on. It all makes sense, it’s just a lot of rather “out there” stuff. Leandro Fernandez provides a lot of strong ink work, with his shading and shadows enhancing the overall mood of the series. I’m certain that this sort of series would appeal to fans of the Image series “Sex” or anything with weird human-on-strange-creature-beast action.