Saturday, November 12, 2011

Single Minded: Some Recent Boom! Releases

Welcome to another edition of Single Minded, where serial comics are the focus of the day.  Today's theme is a set of recently released Boom! Studios comics.  There's a little bit of everything, from Presidental politics to Peanuts!

Yes We Can...Credit a Writer?
 Barack Obama
Written by ??
Illustrated by Damian Couceiro

A little while back, Boom! Studios gave readers a chance to vote for which bio-comics they wanted to see printed by the company.  This is the first of the series, which also features non-candidate (maybe) Sarah Palin.

The comic itself is functional.  It does a good job of condensing Obama's life into the page requirements of a standard comic book, and even goes so far as to mention the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Things are presented as neutrally as possible, and I like that Michelle Obama is even given a little bit of space, as is the story of the Obamas' dog.  Courceiro's art feels drawn just a bit too closely to photo-references, but that's so common anymore I barely noticed.

This is a comic you could (and perhaps might) use in school, geared more towards a YA audience rather than a Direct Market adult, which seemed like a bit of an odd decision.  The comic even had footnotes on every page, explaining things a child is less likely to know than adult (unless I am overestimating the political IQ of a comic book reader?).

However, the thing that makes this book most notable, however, is the lack of an author.  Who wrote this thing?  Did the Geek in Chief get autobiographical, then shy?  Because that would be awesome!  Regardless, this is something that I would recommend more for historical significance than quality.  It's solid but doesn't do anything you can read elsewhere, just with pictures instead of illustrations.
Ocean City Looks Like This.  Honest!

Snarked! #1
Written and Illustrated by Roger Langridge

On the other hand, I can't recommend Snarked! highly enough.  I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this series, because while I really enjoy Roger Langridge's work I just don't have much of a connection to Lewis Carroll.  I only read Alice in Wonderland once, and my favorite adaptation of it contained about six hundred or so musicians instead of actual actors.  This was going to be a test of writer trumping source material.

Oh boy, did it ever!

Langridge's sense of humor, which ranges from slapstick pratfalls to sly elements of sarcasm, is all over the page.  From the opening sequence, where the Walrus and the Carpenter are conning a man out of his sausage (with a library card!) to a lyrical poem that might have fit right in to his Muppet Show work to the seamless integration of my favorite Alice character (the Cheshire Cat) into the story, Langridge is at the top of his game here.  Not only are the characters well-designed and varied (with humans and animals seeming to mix without a second glance), they fit perfectly with their characterization.  The heroes are well-meaning and determined and the villains look almost comically evil, but retain just enough menace to work within the story.

I will always miss the Muppet Show, but I'm happy to have a new Langridge book to enjoy every month.  I highly recommend this comic.  If you only get one Boom! book from this batch, make it this one.

AAAUUUGGGHHHH!
 Peanuts 0
Written and Illustrated by Charles Schultz, Ron Zorman, Vicki Scott, and Paige Braddock

First it was the return of Jason Todd.  Then Bucky.  Now it's new, authorized Peanuts comics.  I'd be lying if I wasn't a bit nervous about the idea, because Charlie Brown and company are tied to their original creator in a way that I don't think any other comic strip is, save maybe Krazy and Ignatz.  However, if anyone was going to do it, I'm glad it's in Boom!'s hands.  They know how to treat a beloved property with dignity and respect.

That shows here, as Writers Zorman and Scott return to classic themes that echo older Schultz cartoons, expanded to a fuller story. The opener reprises Snoopy's famous animal imitations, with Charlie Brown deciding it might just be easier to live life as a fantasy.  That's textbook Schultz, as are the visual gags from Scott and Braddock, who put Woodstock through several bad Snoopy plans.

This is a series that's going to hue closely to the source material (as well as being sprinkled with reprints), for better or worse.  If you are a fan of Snoopy and Company, I think this is worth a look.  If you never liked the characters, this isn't likely to change your mind.
This is not a leftover from Civil War

Seven Warriors 1
Written by Michael Le Galli
Translated by Edward Gauvin
Illustrated by Francis Manapul

Moving into more adult territory, this story follows a besieged city where a Queen makes a dark choice that her son may never forgive her for.  As destruction looms, he's sent to safety in the company of six female warriors, all of whom are drawn to be drop dead gorgeous by the excellent art by Manapul.  But just what is going on, as the route to escape is filled with death traps!  It sure doesn't seem like there'll be seven warriors for long!

This is probably the most Vertigo-like book I've read from Boom!, and I try to read as much of their stuff as I can get my hands on.  We have stronger sexual content than I'm used to seeing in one of their comics, but it makes sense within the context of the story and Manapul illustrates it beautifully.  I'm really interested to see what is going on, as it's clear the Queen is not being truthful with either her son or the reader.  We also get a nice cliffhanger ending here.  I'd actually forgotten how much fun those can be.

My only complaint on this one is that I think Christelle Moulart muddied the colors more than was necessary.  Otherwise, this is a top-notch book for fans of pulp stories with intelligence, such as Dark Horse's Conan or perhaps Northlanders, even if I wasn't that book's biggest fan.

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes 1
Written by Corina Bechko and Gabriel Hardman
Illustrated by Gabriel Hardman

The Planet of the Apes may look like it's under control, but conspiracy and scandal are rife, and just about ready to blow the planet apart.  When an old General defends an unpopular stance with relation to the savage humans, his past may come back to haunt him.  With death around every corner and friends hard to come by, will anyone survive the Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes?

My mother was the bigger Planet of the Apes fan than me, but I know and enjoy the original movies.  I read this one mostly because of Hardman's involvement, as people I respect think he's really good.

They're right.

Despite not being steeped in the lore of the series, I was able to pick up on what was going on easily, and immediately got hooked into the narrative.  I want to know why this General isn't like the rest of the apes.  I want to know why some are trying to keep the humans down.  I'm intrigued by the mystery, which can't be as obvious as it looks--or can it?  There's a ton going on here in just a single issue's worth of pages, which is a refreshing change from story decompression.  (Maybe everything should be a limited series to goose plot?)  I liked this enough to want to go back and read the rest of Boom!'s Apes titles.

Even if you're not big on movie tie-ins, I'd say give this one a chance.  I think you'll go ape over it.

That's it for this edition of Single Minded!  Thanks to Boom! for providing review copies.  If you're interested in having a comic reviewed here, feel free to send me an e-mail (trebro@gmail.com) and I'll be happy to have a look!

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