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Review: Heroes Reborn #2

Heroes Reborn #2

Heroes Reborn #2 is an intriguing comic. The second issue in the event, the issue feels more like a tie-in than the main event. Split between two stories, it definitely delivers some insight and teases the overall story but it doesn’t feel like much of a drawn. It’s both good and bad in a way.

Invaders From the Negative Zone” focuses on Hyperion delivering a bit of an origin in some ways but more showing us more about this “hero”. Writer Jason Aaron gives us a hyper-patriotic Superman who has no problem killing and whose philosophy seems to be “might makes right”. It’s an intriguing story that gives a good sense of who we’re dealing with as Hyperion must stop a jailbreak from the Negative Zone.

Like the debut, it also feels like the more interesting aspects are the other versions of characters we know in this world. Like the debut, all of that is surface deep. It drops hints and teases of a twisted world but doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail to really become interesting. Where the issue is most important is it teases Hyperion knows something isn’t right but is willing to fight to keep things as is.

Dale Keown provides the art with Carlos Magno. Magno also handles inks with Scott Hanna and Edgar Delgado is on color. The story is full of over the top visuals emphasizing the hyper-violence that Hyperion brings to the fight. Murdering villains is not an issue. Between the visuals and the dialogue, there’s also a lack of remorse in doing so. There’s some visuals that pop with memorable moments. There’s definitely a few that’ll get readers to pause. They do a solid job of emphasizing Hyperion’s brutality.

Welcome Home, Soldier” feels more like the continuation of the first issue. It features a veteran checking in on Hyperion with a reveal as to who it is towards the end. Aaron gives a decent story that has its moments but overall is too little of a movement on the main storyline. It also features some gaps in the story forcing readers to strain a bit to pieces of the puzzle together.

Ed McGuinness handles the art with Mark Morales on ink and Matthew Wilson on color. It’s a story that has some zing to it but whose visuals feel a bit like a throwback to the 70s and 80s at times. It generally looks good but doesn’t feature the memorable moments like the opening story. While the visuals also keeps its individual a mystery, it’s not too hard to guess who it is, which makes the whole reveal lack a punch.

Heroes Reborn #2 isn’t a bad comic at all. It just doesn’t feel like the “main event”. The stories feel like either slivers of an issue’s worth of storytelling or they feel like something that’d normally be relegated to a tie-in. It’s not bad at all but like the debut, it feels a bit like a throwback in some ways. Overall, not bad and will work when read all-together, but on its own, it’s a bit of ho-hum.

Story: Jason Aaron Art: Dale Keown, Carlos Magno, Ed McGuinness
Ink: Scott Hanna, Carlos Magno, Mark Morales Color: Edgar Delgado, Matthew Wilson Letterer: Cory Petit
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Robert Kirkman, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson Celebrate One Year of Fire Power

Superstars Robert Kirkman, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson celebrate Fire Power’s historic first anniversary with a line-up of stunning covers and a sneak peek at interior art from issue #12. This momentous issue will showcase some of the biggest names in comics lending their talents to some of Image and Skybound’s hottest covers of the year.

Everything has been leading to this moment. The Scorched Earth Clan and The Order of the Flaming Fist face off one final time! Owen Johnson has fully reentered the world he left behind and from this point on—everything changes! This extra-length issue is NOT TO BE MISSED!

Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 will be available at comic book shops and digital platforms including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play on Wednesday, June 2:

  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover A by Samnee & Matthew Wilson (Diamond Code APR210165) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover B by Frank Quitely (Diamond Code APR210166) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover C by Mindy Lee (Diamond Code APR210167) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover D by Tula Lotay (Diamond Code APR210168)  
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover E by Todd McFarlane & Matthew Wilson (Diamond Code APR210169) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover F by Simone Di Meo (Diamond Code APR210170) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover G by Tonci Zonjic (Diamond Code APR210171) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover H by Rob Liefeld & Marcelo Maiolo (Diamond Code APR210172) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover I by Annie Wu (Diamond Code APR210173) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover J by Erik Larsen & Matthew Wilson (Diamond Code APR210174) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover K by Khary Randolph (Diamond Code APR210175) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover L by Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair (Diamond Code APR210176) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover M Pride variant by Kira Okamoto (Diamond Code MAR219145) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover N 1:25 Copy B&W incentive variant by Frank Miller (Diamond Code MAR219146) 
  • Fire Power by Kirkman & Samnee #12 Cover O 1:25 Copy B&W incentive variant by Todd McFarlane (Diamond Code MAR219147)  

Review: Heroes Reborn #1

Heroes Reborn #1

What if Marvel was DC? That’s the vibe I got from Heroes Reborn #1, the latest Marvel “event” that has Blade awaken in a world he does not know. This is a world where the Avengers never formed and existed. Instead, the Squadron Supreme has stepped in and things have progressed differently in other ways. The result is a ho-hum start that has an interesting mystery but lacks memorable excitement.

Jason Aaron continues his Avengers run with this sidequest. Heroes Reborn #1 isn’t a bad debut but it also doesn’t quite deliver a punch. Instead, we’re guided around the world by Blade as he attempts to figure out what has happened. He’s the only one, maybe, that remembers the world isn’t right. Blade, as our guide, introduces us to the various members of the Squadron Supreme and lets us know what has happened to key Avengers members like Tony Stark, Carol Danvers, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk. We also get to meet this world’s twist on classic Marvel villains. Most just feel like riffs on the combination of characters we’ve seen so many times before. Take two characters, mash them together for a whole new thing to sell.

And that’s part of the problem with the comic. It’s entire draw is to see what’s different expecting readers to be excited that Dr. Doom is mashed with the Juggernaut. The dialogue is a bit on the cheese end of things and the various introductions don’t feel like complete stories. In fact most are not. So there’s an emptiness in a way. We’re also left pondering how Blade is getting around in this strange world as he travels to see Thor or his final stop. We just accept he’s able to.

But, in a way, Aaron has a bit of a success with the comic. It hearkens back with a retro style in its dialogue and battles. It forgoes an edgy darkness for a classic pop-superhero sensibility about it. When I read the comic, I didn’t feel like I was reading a Marvel comic. Instead, the style in dialogue and look was more akin to DC. It’s an interesting stylized choice and not too surprising based on the fact the Squadron Supreme is front and center.

There’s also a lot that does work in the comic. Blade’s confrontation with Nighthawk and Thor are solid and the teases at the end is the really “meat” of the debut issue. But, it doesn’t quite feel like enough. This feels more like a “zero” issue than a solid debut issue.

Ed McGuinness‘ art is fantastic as expected. There’s some fun imagery on the pages with interesting layouts that catch the eye. With Mark Morales on ink, Matthew Wilson on color, and lettering by Cory Petit, the art pops often. There’s some rough spots, some uninspired villain designs, but like the writing there’s a bit of a throwback to the art style and some of the panels. The art does some interesting things blending “classic” comics, the 90s, and modern comics seamlessly. Page layouts are a bit more modern. Some the character design is more 90s and 00s and some of the character stances feel much older and classic. It works in a fun sort of way.

Heroes Reborn #1 is a bit of a mixed bag. Some of what works does so really well. But, there’s also a lot that feels like clunkers. There’s a mix of styles and voices in a way and it doesn’t always blend together. Some of the comic feels like a spoof of the past. Some of the comic feels like an homage. And some of the comic feels like it’s taking itself too seriously. It’s a bit mixed as to what it wants to be. But, its mystery is one that has me wanting to come back and see what’s behind all of this and more importantly, what comes after.

Story: Jason Aaron Art: Ed McGuinness
Ink: Mark Morales Color: Matthew Wilson Letterer: Cory Petit
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.85 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 Heads Back to Print

The Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group is thrilled to announce that the first issue printing of the all-ages single-issue series Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters, in which two sisters struggle on a journey against incredible “unpossible” monsters of all shapes and sizes from the creative team of Chris Samnee, Laura Samnee, Matthew Wilson, and Crank!, has sold out at the distribution level and is heading for an immediate reprint. The second printing features the already-iconic first issue cover by Chris Samnee as reimagined by colorist Matthew Wilson.

Rainbow has been searching for her sister, Jonna, for a year. The last time she saw Jonna was also the first time she saw one of the strange monsters that now roam the planet. They’re big, ugly, and dangerous creatures that have driven humanity to the brink of extinction. Though there isn’t much hope for survival out in the wild, Rainbow knows that her sister is out there somewhere—and she’ll do anything to find her.

Print copies of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 continue to be available at your local comic book store. Digital copies are available for purchase from comiXology and other digital retailers.

The final order cutoff for the Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters issue #1 reprint is March 22, 2021, it will be available in stores and online on April 14, 2021. The Diamond Previews code for Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 second printing is FEB218316. Final order cutoff for Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #2 has been updated to March 29, 2021, in light of the second printing of issue #1, with a new on-sale date of April 21, 2021.

You can read our review of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1.

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 2nd printing

Review: Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1

The talented artist/colorist duo of Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson dive headfirst into the world of all-ages fantasy comics in Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 with Samnee handing story duties as well with co-writer Laura Samnee. The premise of the story is simple, yet heart-rending. Jonna is an energetic young girl, who enjoys running, climbing trees, and being generally adventurous. However, she runs into a big monster one day and goes missing. The hook for the series is that her older sister, Rainbow, must find her in a landscape that’s gone from pastoral to dystopian. With a knapsack on her back and a feather in her beanie, Rainbow also seems to have that adventurous spirit, but it’s for a purpose: finding her lost sister and family.

The first and second half of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters have completely different tones, and the Samnees and Wilson do an excellent job conveying that through script, art, and color palette. All the dialogue in the first half of the comic comes from an exasperated Rainbow, except for one word from Jonna, “Unpossible”. And, honestly, that’s all that needs to be said about her character and the setup of the comic. Jonna is a doer, not a talker, and Samnee and Wilson fill full pages of her leaping from branch to branch culminating in a triumphant splash page at her leaping at the titular monster. These pages are a showcase for Samnee’s skill at showing action and tension as Jonna’s position changes from panel to panel, and Samnee switches from horizontal to vertical layouts depending on the degree of difficulty of her jumps and flips. The tension comes when a branch almost break, and, of course, when she encounters a monster so Wilson uses red to symbolize fear and danger almost in a similar manner to how he colored Chris Samnee’s work on Black Widow when its protagonist got in a rough spot.

However, the second half of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters swaps out Matthew Wilson’s bright colors for something a little more drab. (The one exception is Rainbow’s shock of blue hair.) Facial expressions and dialogue play a larger role as the Samnees’ story transitions from a little girl running free in the wood to her sister trying to find her. Chris Samnee digs into the hopelessness of this new monster-infested status quo in little ways like Rainbow’s utter surprise when she has a nice conversation with another kid about the feather (From the last bird ever!) in her cap or from a close-up of her kicking rock to show the sheer emptiness of her surrounding. However, he and Laura Samnee find little glimmers of light like through Rainbow’s interactions with the totally adorable Gramma Pat, who wants nothing more than for Rainbow to settle down and stay in the camp for a while. However, she also understands that the potential of finding Jonna or the rest of her family is what keeps her motivated and basically gives her a reason to get up in the morning.

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 reminds me a lot of Gareth Edwards’ excellent kaiju film Monsters although the Samnees’ comic has a much more whimsical vibe than the film. The main similarity is in the focus on how these giant monsters have affected human civilization instead of epic battles. (For now.) Rainbow blacks out when she sees Jonna jumping at the monster, and then there’s a page of black with a couple stars that leads into the one year time skip. It shows that these monsters have changed humanity’s way of life and aren’t just gentle giants that young girls can hop around in the woods. These two pages between the first and second part of the comics are a metaphor for having to grow up too fast and sacrifice your childhood and sense of wonder to survive, which is what Rainbow has had to do even though she does keep around relics of the “before time” like her beanie, the aforementioned feather, and her blue hair. These little costume and design choices from Chris Samnee definitely add a hopeful tone to the dark setting of the second half of the comic and hint at a rich world that we’ve only scratched the surface of.

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 shows off Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson’s skill at visually depicting both dynamic movement and quiet character moments as they and Laura Samnee set up a world full of danger and things that go bump during the night and day plus a plucky protagonist, who is willing to face them because she loves and misses her family. I can’t wait to see how Rainbow grows as a character and the dangers (Aka monsters) she faces and hopefully overcomes on her adventure with a purpose.

Story: Laura Samnee and Chris Samnee Art: Chris Samnee
Colors: Matthew Wilson Letters: Crank!
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Early Review: Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1

The talented artist/colorist duo of Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson dive headfirst into the world of all-ages fantasy comics in Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 with Samnee handing story duties as well with co-writer Laura Samnee. The premise of the story is simple, yet heart-rending. Jonna is an energetic young girl, who enjoys running, climbing trees, and being generally adventurous. However, she runs into a big monster one day and goes missing. The hook for the series is that her older sister, Rainbow, must find her in a landscape that’s gone from pastoral to dystopian. With a knapsack on her back and a feather in her beanie, Rainbow also seems to have that adventurous spirit, but it’s for a purpose: finding her lost sister and family.

The first and second half of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters have completely different tones, and the Samnees and Wilson do an excellent job conveying that through script, art, and color palette. All the dialogue in the first half of the comic comes from an exasperated Rainbow, except for one word from Jonna, “Unpossible”. And, honestly, that’s all that needs to be said about her character and the setup of the comic. Jonna is a doer, not a talker, and Samnee and Wilson fill full pages of her leaping from branch to branch culminating in a triumphant splash page at her leaping at the titular monster. These pages are a showcase for Samnee’s skill at showing action and tension as Jonna’s position changes from panel to panel, and Samnee switches from horizontal to vertical layouts depending on the degree of difficulty of her jumps and flips. The tension comes when a branch almost break, and, of course, when she encounters a monster so Wilson uses red to symbolize fear and danger almost in a similar manner to how he colored Chris Samnee’s work on Black Widow when its protagonist got in a rough spot.

However, the second half of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters swaps out Matthew Wilson’s bright colors for something a little more drab. (The one exception is Rainbow’s shock of blue hair.) Facial expressions and dialogue play a larger role as the Samnees’ story transitions from a little girl running free in the wood to her sister trying to find her. Chris Samnee digs into the hopelessness of this new monster-infested status quo in little ways like Rainbow’s utter surprise when she has a nice conversation with another kid about the feather (From the last bird ever!) in her cap or from a close-up of her kicking rock to show the sheer emptiness of her surrounding. However, he and Laura Samnee find little glimmers of light like through Rainbow’s interactions with the totally adorable Gramma Pat, who wants nothing more than for Rainbow to settle down and stay in the camp for a while. However, she also understands that the potential of finding Jonna or the rest of her family is what keeps her motivated and basically gives her a reason to get up in the morning.

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 reminds me a lot of Gareth Edwards’ excellent kaiju film Monsters although the Samnees’ comic has a much more whimsical vibe than the film. The main similarity is in the focus on how these giant monsters have affected human civilization instead of epic battles. (For now.) Rainbow blacks out when she sees Jonna jumping at the monster, and then there’s a page of black with a couple stars that leads into the one year time skip. It shows that these monsters have changed humanity’s way of life and aren’t just gentle giants that young girls can hop around in the woods. These two pages between the first and second part of the comics are a metaphor for having to grow up too fast and sacrifice your childhood and sense of wonder to survive, which is what Rainbow has had to do even though she does keep around relics of the “before time” like her beanie, the aforementioned feather, and her blue hair. These little costume and design choices from Chris Samnee definitely add a hopeful tone to the dark setting of the second half of the comic and hint at a rich world that we’ve only scratched the surface of.

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 shows off Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson’s skill at visually depicting both dynamic movement and quiet character moments as they and Laura Samnee set up a world full of danger and things that go bump during the night and day plus a plucky protagonist, who is willing to face them because she loves and misses her family. I can’t wait to see how Rainbow grows as a character and the dangers (Aka monsters) she faces and hopefully overcomes on her adventure with a purpose.

Story: Laura Samnee and Chris Samnee Art: Chris Samnee
Colors: Matthew Wilson Letters: Crank!
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Pre-order: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Eternals #2

Eternals #2

Eternals #2 continues the battle between Ikaris and Thanos. This time, it seems to span throughout time, ending in an odd draw caused by Sprite. From there, the cast expands and we’re introduced to more of the Eternals. All the while, there’s still the murder mystery from the first issue that the cast is trying to solve.

I have a bit of a learning curve I still need to get over when it comes to the Eternals. For one, I don’t quite know the extent of their abilities. When the fight between Ikaris and the mad titan spun out into a portal that thrust them through time, I didn’t really understand who caused it to happen. But that is just one part of this issue and everything else, I really enjoyed. Whether it was this big fight or the middle sequence of the man on the beach who spends his lifetime after meeting a god waiting for a monster to appear, to the 3rd act of more Eternals, I think I’m really digging what’s going down in these pages. I am appreciative that there’s a writer of Kieron Gillen’s skillset on this because I just think Eternals isn’t quite the kind of book that just goes from A to B in the normal way. However, with these characters not falling into the territory of household names, it would be nice to know within the pages what their abilities are.

I raved about the art team in my review of the first issue. I’m still blown away by what Esad Ribíc‘s pages look like. The action sequences look fantastic and even when there’s just a room full of people talking, this art just shines. If I had to nitpick, which I should, I did feel like Ikaris is the victim of having the same facial expression quite a bit. Still, it’s one of the better-looking Marvel books out right now and Ribic and Wilson are the real deal on Eternals.

If I had one concern with Eternals #2, it would be whether this book sticks the landing. Is the focus on Thanos or the mystery killer of Zuras? Is it both? And who is narrating the issue? I know that not everything can be revealed. I liked Eternals #2 but I feel the Eternals need to focus their efforts going in the next issue.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Esad Ribíc
Color: Matthew Wilson Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 6.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 7.5

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW

Review: Eternals #2

Eternals #2

Eternals launched with an impressive debut comic. It reintroduced the characters who are being set up to be major players with a film coming soon. Created by Jack Kirby, the characters are riffs on various mythology mixed with superheroics and a lot of drama. The new series brings them back, cementing them squarely in the Marvel comic universe, and Eternals #2 does so with a flag planted.

Written by Kieron Gillen, the issue picks up on the surprise appearance of Thanos proceeding into an interesting but expected with Ikaris. The battle itself is presented in an interesting way with the two warriors hurtling through portals and locations as they battle. But, it’s another meet and fight situation, rather trope-ish for the superhero genre. For the most part, the rest of the comic is Ikaris and Sprite repeating “Thanos is here” with only a mild reaction of concern. It’s a bit odd of a reaction concerning it’s mentioned over and over how Thanos has one of the highest body counts out of anything in existence. You’d think Ikaris and Sprite’s claim would immediately raise alarms and have more individuals worried.

There’s also the shelving of the murder of Zuras. The first issue focused on the murder and investigation but the second issue feels sidetracked in multiple ways. The issue is brought up but the “who” behind it doesn’t feel as much of a concern as it was in the previous issue. Eternals #2 feels a bit distracted in multiple ways with delivering a lot of different plot threads but not focusing enough on any of them and their priority and concern feel off. There’s something out of touch and aloof about it all.

Esad Ribíc‘s art for the most part is impressive. With color by Matthew Wilson and lettering by Clayton Cowles there’s a lot to dwell on soaking in the beauty. But, there’s also some missteps in the art as well. Facial reactions between the same characters are far too similar in multiple panels as if they’re almost cut and paste. Eyes, mouth, everything is a bit too similar. It’s a distraction from the otherwise amazing art. Some characters too look a bit too similar to each other getting things a bit lost.

Eternals #2 is an interesting comic but is a bit scattered in its presentation. Too many threats and too many concepts are on the table making the end result a bit jumbled and a little confusing. But, there’s truly beautiful moments. Any of the plot threads could have been a comic by itself. But, all together they feel like a slice of something bigger, none of it stand on its own. While the debut was a home run of a start this second issue loses much of the momentum.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Esad Ribíc
Color: Matthew Wilson Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Exclusive Preview: Eternals #2

Eternals #2

(W) Kieron Gillen (A/CA) Esad Ribić (C) Matthew Wilson (L) Clayton Cowles (VCA) Jamie McKelvie, Todd Nauck
Rated T+
In Shops: Feb 10, 2021
SRP: $3.99

THANOS VS. IKARIS!
• In the heart of a city driven mad by time!
• Eternals live eternally. One is dead. They handle it well.
• No, they don’t. They handle it badly. Eternal revenge is a dish best served forever.

Eternals #2

Music is magic for Everyone in Phonogram: The Singles Club #7

“I used to have a special tape. Used to have my track. My one killer track that would get me flying. You got one of those.”- Buddy (Played by Jon Hamm) in Baby Driver [Aka Phonogram with cars], directed by Edgar Wright

Phonogram: The Singles Club #7

As I mentioned in my first essay about Phonogram: The Singles Club, this series is my go-to trade paperback recommendation for anyone looking into getting into the work of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson. However, on a more micro-level, Phonogram: The Singles Club #7 is my go-to single issue for anyone wanting to get into this creative team’s work, and it’s something I’ll show to folks to demonstrate the relationship between comics and music and how cool and unique this great medium is.

The premise of The Singles Club #7 is simple, yet amazing. Up to this point in the series, Kid-with-Knife has been basically Chas from Hellblazer, but he likes Wu-Tang Clan. Sure, he loves music (especially hip hop), but he’s not a phonomancer. However, on the first page of the issue, David Kohl explains what phonomancy, and Kid realizes that’s something that he and folks do all the time whether you’re walking aimlessly through the city streets, trying to finish a homework assignment, or get that last mile in on the treadmill. Deep down, everyone has that “killer track”, “pump up jam”, or song that gets us moving or feeling inspired and hopeful, and for Kid-with-Knife, that is “Wolf Like Me” by fantastic Brooklyn indie band TV on the Radio. He listens to the song, does parkour in the streets of Bristol, chases away rude men from a couple, ducks in for a kebab, has an amazing indie night with Kohl and Emily Aster, and ends up dancing, forming a connection with, and sleeping with Penny B, who was the POV character in Phonogram: The Singles Club #1. What a night indeed!

Except for the first and final page of the comic, The Singles Club #7 is completely silent so it’s a showcase for Jamie McKelvie’s skill with motion and body language and Matthew Wilson’s color palette. It’s the antithesis of last issue’s black and white zine-inspired story; the praxis to its theory. They also both use werewolf imagery from the TV on the Radio song’s lyrics with Wilson using plenty of dark blues, reds, and giving Kid glowing yellow eyes while McKelvie puts a moon in the background in a couple of key early panels before kicking into parkour mode.

Phonogram: The Singles Club #7

And speaking of parkour, this comic cements McKelvie as a master of showing action in space, especially during the humorous four pages or so where Kid insults a group of tough looking guys and ends up on the run. (He only wanted to get them away from an all-black wearing couple.) He uses The Hatchet Inn (Which is a real place) as a kind of comedic obstacle that Kid and the three guys run around in circles with Kid getting some extra speed lines due to the adrenaline, er, magic of the song. Then, McKelvie goes back to grid mode with the guys looking around a bridge for Kid before breaking it and showing him hanging on one of those height limit signs before making a superhero landing and going into a kebab shop. The power music plus the heightened nature of McKelvie and Wilson’s storytelling has turned a “running away from a group of guys you probably shouldn’t have pissed off” situation into a chase straight out of Batman. The right track really makes you feel like you’re doing epic things, and that’s the truth.

Also, what is so great about Phonogram: The Singles Club #7 is the foreshadowing that Kieron Gillen slipped in back in issue three when Kohl told Emily Aster that Kid-with-Knife’s high energy came up from being hopped up on a TV on the Radio song. And he and McKelvie conclude the issue by showing the indie club night from his perspective featuring intense grids, speech bubbles with symbols and not words, and one beautiful splash page. Kid is so “in the zone” that his perception has become more primal than boring, old human speech, and he’s like the werewolf in the song. (See his face as he digs into that kebab.) There are no conversations: just shots, dancing, and bright lights. I think that the use of symbols instead of text in dialogue bubbles is actually an ingenious way of showing how difficult it is to have conversations at the crowded bar or dance floor area at a club as Kid starts with retelling his pre-club shenanigans, but ends up just ordering a round of shots and dancing with Kohl and Aster. McKelvie cuts together lots of panels, and it ends up being a montage of fun moments from the previous six issues.

Phonogram: The Singles Club #7

However, the conclusion of The Singles Club #7 and the miniseries as a whole is truly magical as the last bits of “Wolf Like Me” start to fade out, and Kid-with-Knife sees Penny B dancing to “Pull Shapes”. In the first issue, she had ended up dancing on her own and just enjoying her favorite song, but now Kid is in the double-page splash and offers his hand. It’s one of Jamie McKelvie’s and Matthew Wilson’s most beautiful pages as Penny is just caught up in the music with stars, precise dance moves, and frosted colors. But, then, Kid joins the dance, their energy matches each other in a rhythmic six-panel grid that erupts into them sleeping together. In a clever bit of storytelling, McKelvie syncs the sex scene to the “We’re howling forever” bit at the end of the song and frames it in the letters of the lyrics. Its passion, chemistry, and great design sense all rolled into one as Kid-with-Knife and Penny B truly become one with this great song.

The main bit of symmetry in Phonogram The Singles Club #7 is definitely the return of Penny B to a prominent role and finally finding someone to dance and have a good time with after the tribulations of the first issue. However, both The Singles Club and Rue Britannia end up with a man and woman in bed together. In Rue Britannia, it’s Beth remembering an old Manic Street Preachers song after she was unable to enjoy music for a while whereas in The Singles Club, it’s Kid-with-Knife and Penny B having a moment of reflection after connecting over the feelings that music gives them. Being a phonomancer, Penny is slightly analytical about the moment while Kid (With a sheepish grin on his face) is content to say, “I don’t know. You tell me.” Unlike Kohl, Aster, Lloyd or the other phonomancers we run into in the comic, Kid-with-Knife finds a song he like and literally runs with it for a full issue with no asides about their subtext (Although, “Wolf Like Me” is definitely about sex.), influences, or anecdote from his past about why he is super obsessed with a band.

What I love about Phonogram The Singles Club other than the masterful silent storytelling from Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson is that it opens the gates of being a phonomancer to everyone. You don’t have to be a hipster or an indie snob or make zines and grimoires, you just have to be emotionally moved by music. And this can lead to physical movement like what Kid-with-Knife got up to in the issue. This song can be in any genre: you just have to deeply connect with it. And that’s really what Phonogram The Singles Club is all about. It’s a saga of connecting or disconnecting with other folks at indie night at a club with pop and indie music as a backdrop. And, thankfully, it ends with two people finding each other via a song. Beautiful stuff, really!

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