Pick of the week (Feb. 25th): The Wicked + The Divine #8

“Being happy for a night. That’s not a small thing” – Dionysus

At this point the creative team of writer Kieron Gillen, artist Jamie McKelvie, and colorist Matthew Wilson, are a well oiled machine. They crank out spectacular issues month after month after month. This issue of The Wicked + The Divine (TW+TD) is no exception. This issue focused on the god Dionysus, who you might remember as the Greek god of wine and crazy parties (more or less). Compared to the rest of the gods we have met in this series Dionysus is less about himself, and more about his fans. Dionysus seems to genuinely care if his fans are enjoying themselves and goes to painstaking measures to ensure they have an adventure they’ll never forget. This issue opens up with Laura entering the rave at Dionysus’ request. She is told that she can party for as long as she wants and to stop all she has to say is “enough”. Once inside Laura tries to uncover answers from the gods and mortals in attendance. While she gets some answers, she leaves the rave (two days later no less), with far more questions than answers.The clever paneling work by McKelvie makes the rave jump off the page. As you read you can almost hear the music playing and feel the bass rumble through your bones. The coloring choices by Wilson are bright and vibrant. They contribute to the rave scene laid out by McKelvie. Together McKelvie and Wilson create a party scene that is as wild as it is stunning. If you have yet to pick up this issue, or this series, I recommend you go to your local comic book store and pick it up as soon as you can. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 8/10

-Andrew Horton

Pick of the Week (Feb. 18th): Sparks Nevada Marshal on Mars

When I was a child I always wanted to play Cowboys and Indians. Sparks Nevada does this on a whole new level. The comic opens up with a young Sparks Nevada being forced to go to Military school by his father (who is a Capt. in the military himself). Sparks would rather stay home and play cowboys and martians till the cows come home. His father disapproves of this idea and demands he enlist. The scene then flashes forward to present day with Sparks, who became a Martial instead of a Captain, guarding a space wagon on a trip across the desert terrain of Mars. The writers of this series are Ben Acker and Ben Blacker (try saying that 10 times fast). At the beginning of the journey several characters are introduced; there’s Mr. Felton, a nervous and loquacious middle aged fellow, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, a rich and slightly air headed duo, and last but not least a small group of guard Robots (who were promised not to become sentient and kill everyone). The gang runs into the Martians (or Marjuns as Mr. Felton refers to them) who warn them that trouble is ahead. Danger, action, and hilarity ensue (although not necessarily in that order). To find out what happens next go buy the issue! Ben and Ben do a great job of writing in a western style Jargon to compliment the scene and the feel of the book. The art by J. Bone was a nice compliment to the humorous style of writing. Sparks Nevada Marshal on Mars is not your average comic book. On the surface it reads like a stereotype filled love child of the George Lucas and Clint Eastwood. What it really is though, is acutely aware of itself. It knows exactly what it is doing and exactly what it wants to say. It plays on old stereotypes and troupes to bring humor and a new perspective to things from our past. For that reason it was a fun and funny ride

Rating: 7/10

-Andrew Horton

Pick of the week (Feb. 11th): Darth Vader #1

Marvel continues their Star Wars relaunch with another strong addition Darth Vader #1. Going into reading the book I expected not to like it. In fact I was dead set on hating it (if not for another reason than to be that hipster who dislikes things others like). However, I admit that I was hooked from the first beautiful splash page and calling card credits which were skewed to be pro the empire. Kieron Gillen crafts a story that is successful in completing two tasks. First it introduces a compelling story-line which includes a few of the most recognizable villains (no spoilers) in the Star Wars universe. Second it makes Darth Vader more than just a two dimensional bad guy. Gillen spins Darth Vader in such a way that he becomes a figure you could sympathize with. He’s still not lovable, but he’s someone a lot of people can relate to. After all haven’t we all had at least one terrible boss? The art by Salvador Larroca was a good fit for the tone of the comic. I especially liked the handling of the action sequences. He was able to convey a lot of action and movement in just a few frames. Larroca also drew Darth Vader exceptionally well. I swear at one point he made Darth Vader appear to have a facial expression. The coloring choices by Edgar Delgado complimented Larrocas art. Delgado stuck to mainly dark muted colors, but struck out with bright, vibrant colors at appropriate times. In my opinion this comic is a great addition to what has been a incredibly success relaunch of the Marvel Star Wars universe.   .

Rating: 8/10

-Andrew Horton

Pick of the week (Feb. 4th): Ant-Man #2

Man this week was close. There were several titles of interest for me that came out this week, and almost all of them delivered (with the exception of “Nameless”). In the end though Nick Spencer’s story telling won me over and in so doing won the week. Ant-Man #2 opens up with Scott Lang in the midst of a battle with a man in what appears to be a bear suit. While they are fighting the bear realizes that it’s not Scott Lang Ant-Man that he has a problem with, butrather its the other Ant-Man (The OTHER other Ant-Man). Then, much like last issue we have a flashback to earlier in the week when Lang tries to get a loan from a bank to start his own business. At first it appears that they are reluctant to give him the funds he seeks because, well, he was(is?) a criminal. What happens next is equal parts hilarity and character development. That’s what makes this series great to me, is unlike some “funny” comics it doesn’t sacrifice character development for humor *cough* squirrel girl *cough*. The art by Ramon Rosanas continues to be stellar. I love the way he is able to convey movement and humor through body postures and paneling. The color work by Jordan Boyd is also a strong point for this comic. The color pallet Boyd has chosen smoothly transitions the eyes from one panel to the next. Ant-Man #2 was a thrilling, fun ride and I personally can’t wait for more.

Rating: 8/10

-Andrew Horton