Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Single Minded: Boom! Studios Titles for February 8th, 2012

Single Minded goes for a second helping, as another Wednesday brings more titles from Boom! Studios.  This time, it's the debut of Adventure Time, more Peanuts, and the continuing adventures of Elric and company with the whole multiverse hanging by a thread.  What did I think?  Read on...

Adventure Time #1.  Written by Ryan North and Aaron Renier. Illustrated by Shelli Paroline, Braden Lamb, and Aaron Renier.


Finn and Jake are two friends living in a world that looks like something out of James Kochalka's dreams.  They like to be cool and do awesome things, but there's an evil lich who wants to destroy everything.  That's not cool at all! Can the pair stop the plan to place all of creation in a really big bag?  Plus, a short story about being careful about where you get your apple cider from!  It's all here in the first issue of the eagerly awaited Adventure Time!

It may be shocking to learn that I have never seen a single episode of Adventure Time, but I just don't watch a lot of television, other than what I can get later via Netflix.  However, since this was being written by Ryan North, I figured I'd give it a try.

While I don't know that I'm the target audience for this, I can definitely see the appeal.  North's Dinosaur Comics patter definitely fits the tone here (and there's a cool nod to his webcomic within the illustrations as an Easter Egg) and there's a sense that this show/comic, like SpongeBob Squarepants, PowerPuff Girls and other similar shows, is aimed at both kids and parents alike.  The main story flows quickly, with the jokes coming fast, furious, and very hip.  Renier's story is a one and done that reads like a B-story of a cartoon, which works well here.  The joke is telegraphed a bit, but I like that it's not used as a major gross-out.

Adventure Time has a lot of potential, and I think it's going to be a huge hit for fans of the show and Ryan North's writing.  Definitely something to look for if you fit in either category--or both.

 Peanuts #2.  Written by Charles Schulz, Shane Houghton, Vicki Scott, and Justin Thompson.  Illustrated by Charles Schultz, Paige Braddock, Vicki Scott, Bob Scott, and Matt Whitlock


First things first:  This might be the best cover I've seen all year.  I love the framing of the characters, the way there is movement despite the tight spacing, and both the background color AND the characters' clothing pop right out at the reader.  Great job on the cover design for this one!

As with the first issue, this comic is a mix of new stories and classic Schultz strips, which usually tie in with the longer materials in some way.  We have a winter theme, as Lucy tries her throwing arm and Charlie Brown fails at yet another Valentine's Day.  The highlight might be a short-short involving Snoopy trying to save Woodstock--only to find that for once, he's not the most resourceful one (even if he has a snowplow in his doghouse, which is an upgrade over Charlie Brown's shovel).

Once again, the stories fit the characters well and do a very good job of capturing the feel of the Peanuts universe, even if the sharper edges are dulled a bit, with Schultz's unique world view not writing the dialog or plots anymore.  I notice that we're all-story this time, with no bonus material for the kids to work on themselves.  I wonder if that will return with issue three?  My only complain here is that Lucy is still being treated as a total villain, losing any redeeming features she had under Schultz.  Given she is the primary female character we see in the books, I'd like to have her get a better portrayal.  Otherwise, I really like this comic and I recommend it without hesitation.

Elric The Balance Lost #8.  Written by Chris Roberson.  Illustrated by Francesco Biagini.  


The battle at the gates continues as Elric and the others try to hold off the combined forces of Chaos and Law who fight both the heroes and each other.  A friend returns to the battle and a desperate plan is hatched to fix the broken balance before it's too late.  Can even these mighty warriors of the multiverse find a way to put everything back together?  Or is the balance forever lost?

The second third of this story finishes up here, as Roberson gathers the cast together for one final attempt to stop the complete breakdown of all that Elric has fought to preserve.  There is a lot of clever, deep plotting that brings us to this point, as the several possibilities suggested in earlier issues are either confirmed or rejected here and we move on to a path that involves a giant, living ship and some conclusions that might follow the lines I think they will or might not--and either way, I'll feel like it was a satisfying story.

Also:  Did I mention that this story has a giant, fish-like inter-dimensional travel device?

Honestly, if I can't sell you on a book that's about to put the characters into a ship that echoes both Jonah and Pinocchio while also battling hordes of crazy-looking creatures for the date of everything, I don't know why you read my review blog.

What's crazy is that this plot twist isn't even the best thing about the issue!  My favorite part of this book are the panel designs.  I don't know if Roberson told Biagini to create them that way or if he did it of his own imagining, but as the narrative progresses and we learn just why these four adventurers are needed, the panel shapes are based off of a key element of the plot.  It's so subtle, you don't notice it at first, but then you go OH WOW (and yes, you do think it in all caps) and see that care was taken to make this book as visually appealing as the narrative.

I really, really like this Elric story and I can't wait to see what comes next.  You should definitely be reading this one if you like sci-fi adventure stories.  That's not my usual cup of tea, but I'm a huge fan of this book.

Thanks as always to Boom! Studios for the review copies.  If you are interested in having your book reviewed by me, please contact me at trebro@gmail.com.

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