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Comic Book Review Round-Up: One Shots #7

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 IDW Publishing, Black Mask Studios, and Marvel Comics, so prepare your face for some rapid fire reviews!

jemJem and The Holograms #2
Scripter: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Sophie Campbell
Colorist: M. Victoria Robado
Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Following an impressive debut issue, Jerrica and her sisters are back in Jem and The Holograms #2. Jerrica has been enjoying the freedom her Jem persona offers, and with the help of Synergy the band catapults to the top of the Misfits Vs. video competition. This earns them the ire of Misfits front woman Pizzazz, as well as the interest of music journalist Rio, who begins trying to get closer to Jerrica. Complicating matters further, Kimber and Misfits keytarist Stormer develop a romantic interest that promises to create even more drama between the rival bands.

Thompson, Campbell, and Robado deliver another bright, bubbly chapter in this all-ages title. This issue shifts gears away from the Holograms themselves to introduce the Misfits, as well as lay the foundations for two romantic subplots. Thompson’s scripting is easy and fun, peppered throughout with clever little bits of humor that helps to give a better sense of the characters. I appreciate the choice to ground Jerrica’s characterization through her anxieties and uncertainties. This creates an interesting dynamic between her and her sisters, and makes her Jem persona all the more important to maintain.

Campbell and Robado continue to work together beautifully. Campbell’s designs are so lively and endearing; she even manages to make the Misfits, who are essentially just “dark” versions of the Holograms, distinctive from the main cast. Their heights, hair styles, and body types are similar, but read like products of a visually cohesive world rather than redressed versions of the same characters. Robado’s primarily pastels palettes and minimalist backgrounds further distinguishes the Misfits from the Holograms for their heavy use of contrasting neon colors, making their opposition clear without becoming too heavy-handed.

Overall, Jem and The Holograms #2 is another fun, visually satisfying issue from a great creative team. If you’re looking for a light and enjoyable all-ages series, give this one a shot.

SilkSilk #3
Scripter: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Stacey Lee
Colorist: Ian Herring
Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Cindy’s fight with her reoccurring dragon-themed nemesis leads her to confrontation against Black Cat in Silk #3 from Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, and Ian Herring. Despite the somewhat grating cover (Can we not call every fight between two female characters a cat fight please? Asking for a friend), the story inside follows Cindy as she connects the dots that lead her to Black Cat’s operation, and ultimately a frustrating contest between hero and rogue. Thompson and Lee contrast this emotionally confusing case against the backdrop of Cindy’s slowly unfolding backstory, interposing battles across the Manhattan skyline with disconnected flashbacks of her fierce and complex relationship with the man who locked her away. Violence Cindy understands, but it’s knowing when to stop that separates her from those she struggles against.

Silk continues to be a subtle yet compelling series that evokes some of the great classic themes of Spider-Man titles throughout the decades. Cindy’s struggle with trust and identity, power and self-restraint play affectively throughout this series, and this issue in particular. Thompson’s dialogue is light and quippy but doesn’t detract from the weightier ideas it attempts to play down, putting Cindy’s defense mechanisms on poignant display. Lee and Herring’s work on this book continues to impress, making for a visually engaging read. From Lee’s stylized line work and well-composed pages to Herring’s soft color choices and sunlight-drenched lighting effects, this book is remarkably competent and charming from the first page to the last.

Silk #3 is another smart and exciting read in a distinctive series. Silk tackles Spider-book themes with equal measures of wit and seriousness, making for a well-balanced yet low-key read. It’s one of the best superhero titles Marvel’s offered in recent years and is definitely worth your attention.

maydayMayday #1
Scripter: Curt Pires
Artist: Chris Peterson
Colorist: Pete Toms
Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Everybody knows about Hollywood. Everybody knows that’s where the movies get made and the dreams go to die. More than that, it’s where the burn-outs and psychos go when real life rejects them, turning them loose on the streets with all the wanna-bes and has-beens. This is the world of Mayday #1 from Curt Pires and Chris Peterson: a sun-bleached, drug-addled playground for the depraved and criminally motivated. Terrance Gattica is one of those has-beens, an acclaimed screenwriter who got lost in the excess and never found his way back. Now as a bizarre murder spree sweeps across the city, he and a bartender named Kleio find themselves in the middle of the plot with two dead bodies on their hands. But, hey – this is Hollywood, right? Stranger things happen all the time.

The story behind Mayday is well-trodden territory, waxing about the extravagance and debauchery Hollywood is known for. While the script certainly succumbs to these tropes, the humor is self-aware enough to realize where it sits in its own genre and manages to take potshots at celebrities without taking itself too seriously. Some of the jokes are a little too on the nose, but this isn’t a book that cares about restraint. Fortunately the set-up and characters are interesting enough to make up for a few of these fumbled deliveries.

What really sells this book is the work of artist Chris Peterson and colorist Pete Toms. Peterson’s loose line work and clever eye for page design set a compelling pace while remaining flexible enough to cash in on some of the visual gags set up by Pires’ script. The narrative jumps time, place, and point of view throughout the book, but the transitions are handled seamlessly enough to mitigate any confusion. Action sequences prove to be Peterson’s strong suit and some of the most satisfying scenes, specifically the impressively paced two-page fight at the end of the book. Toms’ dingy matte palette choices and halftone shading effects bring a subtle vintage film look to the title, like something straight out of an exploitation flick.

Satirical, violent, and comically over-the-top, Mayday #1 is certianly worth a look by my standards. This book knows exactly what it’s going for, and to its credit, succeeds in doing so for much of the issue. I’m curious to see what comes of this title in coming months.

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