January 11, 2021

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Quick Hit Reviews-- Scout's Honor #1, Eternals #1. and Future State: Swamp Thing #1

Welcome back to an old Panel Patter tradition-- the Quick Hit pellet review column, where we'll be giving you reviews of a handful of recent releases.  Before we dive in, I just want to quickly highlight one of my favorite panels from last week's comics.


Future State: Wonder Woman, art by Joelle Jones and Jordie Bellaire

When I got to this panel in Future State: Wonder Woman #1, I knew that this was going to be a fun comic.  I loved how Bellaire just dropped out all of the colors except for the reds and the greens to really highlight this moment on the third page of the comic.  It's violent in a way that we're not used to DC comics being.  Jones is a wonderful artist who brings a lot of spriteliness to this comic.  It's a really fun one as she leans into the fantasy elements, getting to draw mystical beasts and a hero who isn't burdened by a lot of history or tragedy.  There's so much to enjoy about this comic and this panel finds a fresh way to show us that we're stepping into something vibrant.  

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Future State: Swamp Thing by Ram V, Mike Perkins, June Chung, and Aditya Bidikar, published by DC Comics.
Ram V and Mike Perkins want us to know that the future is here and it isn’t ours.  

Their new Swamp Thing gives us a world of plant-based creatures.  It’s almost like what if the Garden of Eden was the Adam and Eve of this world and man was just one of the animals for the garden to watch over.  But all of this happens in a post-human world, where mankind has become an endangered species as Swamp Thing tries to lead his people on a search for the survivors of humanity.  

Ram V sets up an inner conflict in Swamp Thing-- trying to build a better world but also trying to give humanity a second chance.  This sets up a conflict between Swamp Thing and his children who wander the remains of NYC looking for some sign of a surviving mankind.  This new race thinks the world should be theirs but their father holds a glimmer of hope of finding a link to the past.  But maybe his children aren’t wrong about it being their time to try to save and rule the planet.

There’s a rich artistic legacy to Swamp Thing stories that Perkins seems to be simultaneously homaging as well as adding to. His art portrays these plant characters in very human terms, giving them personalities and attributes of the species that they’re replacing.  Perkins not-quite-plants/not-quite-aliens figures are modeled on humans as that’s part of the plot; it’s really the only thing that Swamp Thing knows.  The alienness of their appearance and actions adds to the displacement of even the reader.  Perkins shows us what the world would be like without us in it and it’s not really that different.  Is that the point?  



Scout's Honor #1 by David Pepose, Luca Casalanguida, Matt Milla, and Carlos M. Mangual, published by Aftershock
Luca Casalanguida and Matt Milla’s work in Scout’s Honor evokes a familiarity in it.  Almost every page and panel recalls other artists but it’s never a direct copy of anyone.  There’s some Chris Sprouse in the work, some Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson, and maybe even a bit of Dan Panosian here.  Heck, there are even hints of Alex Toth throughout the art.  And those are all good influences in this story about a post-destruction society that treats the Scout’s handbook as their Bible, using the lessons and skills that any good scout should learn to form a new society after the old one crumbles.  Casalanguida draws this like it’s a post-apocalyptic Jonny Quest.  This is a dangerous world and somehow Boy Scout-age boys are our protectors in it.  Casalanguida’s work blends seamlessly together with a boy’s adventure story with an end-of-the-world disaster epic.

Pepose writes a first issue that introduces us to this new story and sets up no tone, not two, and probably not even three but at least four different and personal conflicts for his and Casalanguida’s young hero Kit.  There’s who Kit really is, Kit’s best friend’s competitiveness and need to prove himself, Kit’s discovery of the true nature of the Scout’s handbook that society has been built around, and just surviving in a post-nuclear world.  Pepose sets up an ambitious adventure built around a catchy high-concept elevator pitch that has characters and adventures that are thrilling.  




Eternals #1 by Kieron Gillen, Esad Ribic, Matthew Wilson, and Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics
Reading The Eternals #1, it feels like Kieron Gillen was looking at what Jason Aaron and Jonathan Hickman have been doing at Marvel and wanted to get back in on the fun of working in a shared universe again.  In this comic, Gillen is working to find a balance for long-time Marvel fans and a newer audience who has never seen the Eternals before.  With that in mind and while he introduces a lot of characters and names, he spends his time with warrior Icarus and the impish Sprite to try to ease readers into this third-tier Kirby creation.  Of course, with a movie coming out sometime (who knows when?) Marvel is obviously counting on this being the next big thing.

Ribic is doing his best “this is important stuff” work. His style, combined with the somber coloring from Matthew Wilson, just has the air of weight and import to it.  This is an epic story because the single mode that Ribic works in is epic.  And he’s really good at it.  As an artist who gives his colorist a lot of room to show off their stuff, Ribic really focuses on making sure that the characters remain at the center of the story and action.

Working a lot of plot and exposition into this first issue, Gillen uses them to drive the momentum of this re-introduction.  The characters are fitting more into roles than into developed personalities but that helps to establish who’s who. This is an introductory story for old characters.  As such, it’s a slightly odd exercise of treading the past while it tries to chart a future.