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Dynamite Entertainment

Dynamite 1
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Written by Brandon Jerwa and Drawn by Edgar Salazar

A group of television network executives sit in a bar, drinking themselves silly and hoping to come up with the next great ratings smash. Then, the solution to all their problems walks in the door: literary anthropologist Piotr Rusea. Rusea is an expert in mythology, and as the group has been thinking about monsters, he has just the story for them: it involves the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, and a young woman named Eve who happens to be the daughter of the famous vampire. The story spans across centuries and continents, following the exploits of the young girl as she attempts to end the life of the vile creature that sired her. But first a threat rears its head that will take the power of both to defeat; can they put aside their differences long enough to survive? And who is Piotr Rusea, anyway?

It’s a clever conceit, using Rusea to tell the story as a television pitch; after all, when you read the book, it absolutely plays as though it is a television pitch. It made me wonder where Dynamite might have mailed a copy of the book after it was printed. But first, you have to be sure if it works as a comic, and it does, without a problem. Jerwa obviously has a bit of fun with the whole idea, and even though Eva is a very serious and grim character, there’s still a subtly dark sense of humor running through the whole proceedings. It also looks nice; Salazar delivers some solid art that’s strong on detail, and it’s colored directly from his pencils.

All that said, I’m not sure that EVA could succeed as a monthly title on her own. There are other books in a similar vein (BUFFY and HACK/SLASH come to mind) on the shelves right now, not to mention DE’s own RED SONJA, so I think it’d be difficult to get a toehold on a monthly basis. But I can easily see EVA returning to shelves in one-shots on a quarterly basis, and doing quite well at it. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a solid piece of entertainment with a female lead, this is a good prospect.

Marc Mason

Written by Brandon Jerwa and Drawn by Stephen Segovia and Jackson Herbert

Bill and Carolanne Adama are still married. Saul and Ellen Tigh have yet to split up. Doc Cottle is still going out on field missions. And the Cylons are still a couple of years away from attempting to wipe out the human race. But the ship is the same, and that’s where Jerwa’s SEASON ZERO finds its traction; we know everything that’s about to happen, and there isn’t much room to play. But thanks to season three’s “HERO”, we know that the Cylons weren’t as hidden as the colonial government had let on, and that there are tales to be told that take us up to the original miniseries.

There’s obviously some inherent risk in going backward and telling these stories; GALACTICA is a drama series at heart, not a science fiction series, and much of the drama is taken away when you set a story in this time period. None of the regular characters is in danger of dying. They won’t learn that Sharon is a Cylon. So Jerwa is going to have to introduce characters and situations that become the focus of the drama. Here, it’s Admiral Julian Dimarco; his “expeditionary fleet” has gone missing, and the Galactica is charged with rescuing their group. Unfortunately for Adama, Dimarco’s mission was far more complex than it seemed, and the Admiral might not want to be rescued.

It’s a bit of a slow start, honestly, as Jerwa has to take the time to set up the characters, put them in their status quo, and deliver a scenario to create reader interest. But once things get going, it’s pretty decent. The real test will be issue two, as the preliminaries will have been taken care of and we’ll see if the writer has built a solid enough dramatic structure to keep the reader interested.

Marc Mason

Written by Greg Pak and Drawn by Nigel Raynor

Greg Pak’s year-long arc on GALACTICA comes to a close here with one final major story and a wrap on a number of subplots he’s had in motion since issue #0 shipped way back when.

When last we left off, one of the Sharon copies had taken a number of the “Returners” (Cylon creations based on the dead loved ones of Galactica’s crew) and a bunch of the classic show’s centurion models, and ventured forth to a basestar to spread death and destruction to the Galactica’s enemies. But things get complicated quickly; the Cylons inform Sharon that she is not a machine, but the actual human that the Sharon series was based upon; and on the flip side, Dualla’s “returned” brother falls under the sway of the D’Anna Cylon series and begins to embrace his machine heritage and rebel against the idea of wiping out the Cylons.

As the series has progressed, Pak’s story has certainly seen some ebb and flow. Early on, it felt like he had no idea where he was going with things, and Raynor was not giving him strong support on the art side. Then it picked up a bit in the middle, before hitting another lull. But here in the homestretch, it genuinely appears as though Pak had a better grip on where he was going than I’d have guessed early on. In fact, I suspect this book will read much, much better in collected form than it did in pamphlets. Any skepticism I might have had about its bookstore prospects is gone, and an omnibus collection should sell like gangbusters.

The questionable link all along has been Raynor, but for the most part, he does his best work in these final four issues. The backgrounds have some care to them, and he’s more consistent in how he draws the characters. He also does an above-average job of making D’Anna look like Lucy Lawless.

Doing licensed comics is always tricky, and doing a story set in the middle of a TV season where we know how things worked out is even trickier, But ultimately, Pak pulls off something entertaining that fits in to what we know without taking away from where the show’s storyline went. Fine magic, indeed.

Marc Mason

Written and Drawn by Various

The four stories that kicked off in issue one of this title get new installments here, with one concluding. The lead story, featuring Red Sonja squaring off against a succubus-like witch, finishes up in strong fashion with the redhead doing her usual bit of name-taking and ass-kicking. It’s also the best-looking story in the book, featuring some very nice work from Adriano Batista.

Stories two through four are a bit more of a mixed bag, however. Leah Moore and John Reppion’s “Battle for Atlantis” is solid enough, offering up a classic bit of imperialism logic to go with the Atlantean legend. But the star is comics legend Pablo Marcos’ art; this stuff looks great, a treat for the eyes. “Where Walks the Hunter” part two continues to be the book’s weakest link, filling in some of the backstory mythology for the main SONJA title without any context to guide the new reader. Luke Lieberman and Mike Oeming leave no cliché unused, from the hottie female sacrifice who immediately gives herself to the rescuing hero to the wolf-like protagonist slashing a blade to victory to the obvious setup the hero is about to fall into… you’ve seen it all before.

The Cthulhu tale, “The Elder Things That Fell to Earth” again closes out the book and remains the highpoint. Mike Raicht’s plot zips along briskly, the characters have some intrigue to them… even though some of this also comes from central casting, the milieu and topic feels fresh as a spring day, and I got sucked into it quite nicely. I’m not entirely certain that good will ultimately win the day by the time this story finishes, and that’s a rare feeling, the not-knowing…

SAVAGE TALES is a mixed bag at heart, thanks to “Hunter” dragging it down. With a better bit batting third, I’d recommend it without hesitation. But as it stands, my recommendation comes with a caveat.

Marc Mason

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Drawn by Lee Moder

I’m not really going to give a full review of PAINKILLER JANE #1; I almost feel like I can’t. After all, considering I interviewed Jimmy for the first JANE trade paperback, wrote the Scifipedia entries for the book over at the Sci-Fi Channel’s website, and am prominently pull-quoted in the PREVIEWS ad for this book, my point of view is probably… a bit more skewed in favor of the book than most.

But I soldier on.

JANE #1 picks up where the #0 issue left off- with Jane having been blown up in a building. Believed dead, she’s now stuck in a meat wagon, about to scare the holy shit out of a couple of EMTs. But before she can even drag her sorry, pants-less ass back home, she gets stuck in a terrorist attack on the subway that comes closer to putting her in the grave for real than just about anything she’s ever faced. Given that, it becomes time for her to finally take a vacation. Fortunately, the few friends she does have know where to send her: the beach. And the black-haired hottie girl rubbing lotion on her back might just be the cure for something else ailing our heroine as well. Of course, if Jane knew that the woman was a terrorist, responsible for the subway incident and many others, she might be a little less inclined to get her bi-sexual groove back.

Now, PAINKILLER JANE became one of my favorite books because of Palmiotti’s willingness to go completely over-the-top with the action and absurdity of Jane’s world, and Moder’s gift for putting on the page near-perfectly. But as much as readers might get something lurid out of Jane’s beginning of a dalliance at the end of the book, what makes it work is that Jimmy goes against the grain and tones it down. Jane is a lonely, sad person when you get down to it. Her life is killing, never relaxing and smiling. Human contact is almost completely denied to her. So when someone comes along who catches her in a vulnerable position… and it’s someone deliberately trying to get close to her for other means, it makes good sense and works for the story, nothing shocking about it at all. If it had been a guy, she might have felt less like letting her guard down.

So, yeah… as insane as the book can be, Jimmy never forgets to service the character first. And Moder shows himself to be just as adept at drawing quiet intimacy as blowing shit up. You don’t have to take my word for it that this continues to be a great book- just pick it up and see for yourself.

Marc Mason

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