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Comic Book Review Round-Up: One Shots #5

Want to see what other comic books I read each month? Well, look no further: One Shots is my weekly comic book round-up, covering everything I can’t get to in my regular reviews. This week I’ll be covering books from Image Comics, Boom Studios, and Marvel Comics, so prepare your face for some rapid fire reviews!

DIG055603_3Ms. Marvel #14
Scripter: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Colorist: Ian Herring
Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Kamala’s crush on Kamran brings danger to her doorstep in Ms. Marvel #14 from G. Willow Wilson and Takeshi Miyazawa. On the surface, Kamran seems the perfect match: he’s handsome, he’s nerdy, and he’s an Inhuman just like Kamala. Her family would definitely approve of him (in a few years, of course) over Kamala’s best friend Bruno, who’s still holding a candle for her despite the odds. The only problem is Kamran’s thrown in with Lineage, leader of Jersey City’s own league of Inhuman villains. So much for young love.

Wilson and Miyazawa continue to spin an affective coming-of-age romance in the second chapter of this three-parter. Kamala’s doomed crush follows familiar tropes without feeling stale, carried by the strong characterizations this title is known for. Her conservative family weighs on her conscience, raising the stakes for their budding relationship. Even Bruno’s exchange with Aamir about his dashed hopes sheds some light on the supporting characters surrounding Kamala.

Miyazawa’s finely-detailed figures and compelling panel compositions elegantly render Kamala’s emotionally turbulent world. The bulk of the story is a series of two-person conversations but Miyazawa manages to bring a level of visual interest through the strength of storytelling. Every stance and gesture is deliberate, the connection of bodies charged with subtle intimacy, be it romantic or otherwise. His pencils are beautifully complemented by colorist Ian Herring’s somber palettes, masking Kamala’s world in wistful blues and soft yellow light.

giantdays_02_a_mainGiant Days #2
Scripter: John Allison
Artist: Lissa Treiman
Colorist: Whitney Cogar
Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

It’s the first nasty bug of the school year, and nobody is safe from the dreaded Freshman Flu. Medically-induced hallucinations and self-diagnosis abound as the dorm is waylaid by the mucussy onslaught. While Daisy finds herself unwittingly seduced by the power of unregulated Polish cold medicine, Esther’s fever dreams blur the line between reality and occult fantasy. Meanwhile, too sick to smoke, the ever-steady Susan goes into nicotine withdrawal as she continues to navigate her tense relationship with the mysterious McGraw.

John Allison and Lissa Treiman’s charming all-ages comedy continues to delight in Giant Days #2. Allison’s script brims with clever dialogue, the jokes carried by well-developed characters and their earnest, organic banter. Susan, Daisy, and Esther perfectly encapsulate the oft overwhelming emotional spectrum of college life, when you’re not a teenager anymore but don’t yet feel ready for adulthood. There’s little advancement of the plot, but Allison takes the time to dig into the world and flesh it out with each issue in poignant slices of life.

Treiman’s endearing style and smart storytelling fully utilizes visual humor rather than just emphasizing quips, as many comics are guilty. Her backgrounds are sparse, but her page designs are kinetic and make Allison’s character-oriented script visually engaging. Likewise, her characters are highly detailed and distinctive, from Susan’s wild gesticulations to Daisy’s ragdoll slump and poofy hair. Whitney Cogar’s bright palettes make Treiman’s artwork pop, developing empty interior spaces with emotionally-driven and impactful color choices.

Giant Days is a funny and understated treatise on college, life, and growing up. Allison, Treiman and Cogar collaborate to develop a cast of disarming characters and engaging personal stories. If you’re not already reading this six-part series, I suggest picking it up.

RUNLOVEKILL_01-1RunLoveKill #1
Scripter: Jon Tsuei and Eric Canete
Artist: Eric Canete
Colorist: Leonardo Olea
Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

The wall enclosing Prygat is nearly complete. Origami, Prygat’s defense ministry, promises the wall will protect the city-state from further aggressions by its dangerous neighbors. But there’s a catch: if you’re in the city when the wall is complete, you won’t leave. This is why Rain is trying to get out. An assassin on the run, she has just twenty-four hours to leave Prygat alive, or she’ll be caught and killed by Origami. With everything going wrong on her last day in town, it’s a race against time to get out alive.

Why Rain’s being hunted by Origami remains unclear. What we do know is that RunLoveKill #1 is a visually impressive sci-fi action comic from creators Jon Tsuei and Eric Canete. Stylistic allusions to prominent genre properties like Aeon Flux and Blade Runner set the dystopic tone well, with familiar themes present throughout Rain’s captioned narration. The story is left vague as exposition and world-building is forgone in exchange for a cryptic yet compelling opening sequence. Imagery of a cellist, a runner, and a firing squad tease the reader but offer no further clues, bookended by an enigmatic machine sequence. Rain’s characterization isn’t completely clarified in this first issue, but these opening pages are gripping enough to command the reader’s attention.

Canete’s figure work is wispy, dynamic, and highly expressive, from the tips of splayed fingers to wayward curls of Rain’s pink hair. His backgrounds and cityscapes are even more ambitious. Every sequence is exquisitely rendered, from the dim stairwells of Rain’s dilapidated apartment to full-page splashes of the city and its seemingly impossible geometry. Each page is well-paced and engaging as narrow, densely composed panels make for a reading experience as claustrophobic as the streets of Prygrat itself. The amount of detail packed into every page is nothing short of impressive, and colorist Leonardo Olea’s grim palette choices are a beautiful complement.

Despite this being one of the most artful genre books I’ve seen in a while, the writing hasn’t quite caught up with the visual style. The introduction is certainly intriguing, and the dystopic staging makes me curious to see where this title goes. Unfortunately, the central characters aren’t particularly well-developed, which is a misstep for an opening issue. It’s extremely difficult to balance intrigue and world-building in a #1, and many books stumble on the first go while the creative team finds their stride. But given the strength of the visual execution, I’m more than willing to give RunLoveKill #2 a chance next month.

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