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Review: Rorschach #2

Rorschach #2

The debut of Rorschach was an interesting one. As a political thriller and crime comic, it works quite well. As a follow-up to Watchmen, the comic is a bit mixed. Its connection feels like it could easily be swapped out for other random characters. It’s currently tenuous at best. Rorschach #2 dives further into the mystery of the attempted assassination. The investigation, and issue, focuses on Wil Myerson, a reclusive artist known for his pirate comics.

As far as a “crime” comic focused on the investigation, it’s a fine entry. Writer Tom King has shown in the first two issues he has a deft handling of the genre. It’s one it’d be interesting to see him do more of. The comic as a tie-in to Watchmen is a bit looser and in that way, it stumbles a bit. Still, like many of King’s works, this is a series that’ll be best measured on its whole than individual parts.

And part of that stumbling is what feels like an attempt to shoe-horn in some concepts. The fact that Myerson is a creator on pirate comics, tiptoeing around the pirate story within a story of the original, doesn’t come off so much as a wink and no as it does a replay of part of what made the original work so well. Here too sees a story within a story. It’s full of morality and deeper messaging begging to be examined and dissected. While the execution is impressive the inclusion feels a little pretentious and a rehash of what was done before.

Jorge Fornés‘ art is commendable though. Along with color by Dave Stewart and lettering by Clayton Cowles, the comic within a comic in Rorschach #2 is impressive. That alone makes the comic worth checking out. From the design of those pages to the details of the dialogue, the section of the comic pops and stands out as the best thing from the first two issues. There’s still an issue where the design of the characters and world doesn’t fit the time period. While it matches the first issue, it’s in contrast with the television shows’ more modern style, even though they both are in the same world. Rorschach #2 continues to look like the 1970s in style and design.

As far as a sequel to Watchmen, Rorschach #2 falls a little short and feels like it’s connection is currently shoehorned in. But, as a crime comic, Rorschach #2 is a solid entry taking us through a detective attempting to figure out a puzzle and piecing together what’s presented before him. Like the first issue, I’m enjoying more for that aspect than anything having to do with the world it takes place in. In that way, Rorschach has its own duality in the story, whether that’s intended or not.

Story: Tom King Art: Jorge Fornés
Color: Dave Stewart Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.95 Art: 9.0 Overall: 7.99 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

The Recount #1

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night #1 (Behemoth Comics) – Bad City is an Iranian ghost town filled with prostitutes, junkies, and pimps, and other sordid souls. A lonely vampire, The Girl, stalks the town’s inhabitants. The concept and unique location have us intrigued to find out more.

Children of the Grave #1 (Scout Comics) – Earth has been reset and the populace lives in bliss receiving all they need from “Providers”. One person wants to find out the truth.

Dead Day #5 (AfterShock) – The series has been amazing at building its world where the dead return for a night.

Frank At Home On the Farm #1 (Scout Comics) – Frank returns from World War I to find his family missing and only the animals waiting for him.

Ginseng Roots #7 (Uncivilized Comics) – Craig Thompson’s exploration of his childhood and ginseng continues. Absolutely amazing work.

Legacy of Mandrake the Magician #2 (Red 5 Comics) – The debut really surprised us and has us excited to read more. It’s a great update to the classic character while honoring what has come before.

The Recount #1 (Scout Comics) – A President is assassinated and the conspirators turn their sites into those who helped get him into power… and that includes ordinary citizens who got him elected. The nation is on the brink of chaos and civil war.

Rorschach #2 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – The Watchmen follow up had an intriguing start and works better as a straight-up crime/noir/political mystery than Watchmen. We want to see where it goes from its debut and how it all unravels.

Snowpiercer: The Prequel Part 2: Apocalypse (Titan Comics) – The story of how the world plunged into a frozen tundra is revealed.

We Live #2 (AfterShock) – The debut had us in literal tears and we’re excited to dive into more of this world. It’s the end of humanity and children are heading to a pick up point to get off the planet and hopefully survive.

Preview: Rorschach #2

Rorschach #2

Story: Tom King
Art: Jorge Fornes

What’s the connection between an aging comic book artist and Rorschach? That’s the question the detective investigating the attempted assassination of a presidential candidate must answer. Wil Myerson, a reclusive artist known for his pirate comics, went from drawing the adventures of Pontius Pirate and the Citizen to working with a mysterious young woman hellbent on making sense of a post-Watchmen world. Somewhere in the life of Wil Myerson lies the key to learning more about Rorschach. Eisner Award-winning writer Tom King teams with rising star artist Jorge Fornés to delve into backroom maneuvering and political corruption in a story that asks how far a man with ideals will go to make them a reality.

Rorschach #2

Around the Tubes

Rorschach #1

It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below! While you wait for shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

ICv2 – AMC Theaters Warns Investors That It Might Run Out of Money By Late 2020 or Early 2021 – This isn’t too surprising.

Review

Talking Comics – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Vol. 4
The Beat – The Devil’s Red Bride #1
The Beat – The Magic Fish
The Beat – Rorschach #1

Review: Rorschach #1

Rorschach #1

Rorschach #1 is a fascinating start to the already controversial series. Set in the world of Watchmen, what you think of that might already be swayed one way or another. But, as we’ve seen from the television series, we can get quality continuations and other stories told in that world. It looks like Rorschach #1 might be another example of a quality story being told. It’s just set in that controversial modern classic comic world.

Written by Tom King, Rorschach #1 is a political thriller. The comic, so far, hasn’t felt like it needed to be set in the world of Watchmen. But, it’s been just one issue. The story revolves around the attempted assassination of a Presidential candidate. From there an investigation begins as to what happens which opens so many questions and a lot of mystery.

Rorschach #1 might be set in the world of Watchmen but its heart is squarely set in the political thrillers and noir films of the 1960s and 1970s. From the tone to the look, this is a crime comic that just so happens to feature someone dressed as Rorschach.

Someone wearing a Rorschach mask has attempted to assassinate the candidate running against President Robert Redford. Taking place 35 years after the events of Watchmen, we’re left with questions. Who? Why? And, what the hell!? There’s a lot set up in this issue and for those who love a good crime story, it’s a solid read. Really solid read.

Now, here’s where I have some issues, the art. The comic takes its queues from thrillers from the 60s and 70s and looks like the 70s early 80s… but it’s 2020!? There’s a slight disconnect for me with the visuals where the most shocking thing was finding out it was 2020 at the end. There’s a reference to “Oklahoma” which clued me in the television show is cannon, but the clothes, a beeper, the comic looks very early Dirty Harry.

Despite that, the art by Jorge Fornés is fantastic. Fornés doesn’t attempt to put his own spin on the “Watchmen style” like Doomsday Clock did. Instead, this comic is its own thing with a clear voice in its pacing and style. Dave Stewart‘s colors add to the visuals of the comics delivering a coloring that just fits perfectly for its noir/crime story roots. While the outfits and haircuts might betray when the comic takes place the visuals are still fantastic and the combo of them with King’s dialogue and pacing is damn near perfect.

As a fan of this type of story, Rorschach #1 is a home run for me. I found myself going back to count shots and matching up blood spurts. I looked for clues as I went along. It sucked me in attempting to unravel the mystery as the comic progressed. I’m a crime/noir comic fan and this is up there. For those who might be turned off because it involves Rorschach and/or Watchmen, you’re missing out on a hell of a debut and a comic I’m dying to read the second issue of.

Story: Tom King Art: Jorge Fornés Color: Dave Stewart
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Commanders in Crisis #1

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Commanders in Crisis #1 (Image Comics) – The last survivors of the Multiverse live among us under new, superheroic identities, five survivors of doomed worlds…taking a second chance to ensure our world lives on. Our review was a glowing one, you can check it out here.

Concrete Jungle #1 (Scout Comics) – A rogue telepath hijacks minds to commit crimes. The conept just sounds awesome.

Rorschach #1 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – If you’re a fan of crime/noir comics, this is a must. Forget the Watchmen tie-in, it’s just a solid start to a crime mystery.

Seven Secrets #3 (BOOM! Studios) – The series has a been a lot of fun so far. The first two issues were not what we were expecting so very interested in seeing where this all goes.

Strange Adventures #6 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – This issue is the best of the series so far. There’s some raw discussions here about being a parent as we learn more about the death of Adam Strange’s daughter and Mr. Terrific’s wife and unborn child.

Vain #1 (Oni Press) – Eliot Rahal is an amazing writer and we’re here for anything new from him. Add in Emily Pearson on art and we’re beyond excited for this new series about a robbery at a blood bank.

Villainous #1 (Mad Cave Studios) – A new superhero is working with her idols but her dreams turn to nightmares and she has to make a choice about standing with heroes or becoming… villainous.

Warhammer 40K: Marneus Calgar #1 (Marvel) – The world of Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 comes to Marvel. A solid start that’s good for long-time fans of the property and new readers.

We Live #1 (AfterShock) – If you’re not in tears by the end of the issue, you have no heart. Just a heart-wrenching sci-fi series.

Yasmeen #3 (Scout Comics) – One of the best comics out there, it explores a young woman dealing with the trauma of being tortured by ISIS as she attempts to get settled in the United States.

Preview: Rorschach #1

Rorschach #1

Written by: Tom King
Art by: Jorge Fornes

It’s been 35 years since Ozymandias dropped a giant interdimensional squid on New York City, killing thousands and destroying the public’s trust in heroes once and for all. And since that time, one figure in a fedora, mask, and trenchcoat has become a divisive cultural icon. So what does it mean when Rorschach reappears as an assassin trying to kill a candidate running against President Robert Redford? Who is the man behind the mask, and why is he acting this way? It’s up to one detective to uncover the true identity of this would-be killer—and it will take him into a web of conspiracies involving alien invasions, disgraced do-gooders, mystic visions, and yes, comic books. Writer Tom King joins forces with artist Jorge Fornés for a new miniseries that explores the mythic qualities of one of the most compelling characters from the bestselling graphic novel of all time, Watchmen.

Rorschach #1

Review: Doomsday Clock #1

To put it bluntly, Doomsday Clock #1 is what many comic book fans (And Alan Moore wherever he is.) have feared: a direct sequel to Watchmen. The story is set in an alternate version of 1992 about five years after the events of the original series. An actor (Robert Redford) is president, the world is on the brink of nuclear war, Ozymandias is a fugitive and pariah, Dr. Manhattan is missing, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre are still happily retired and don’t appeared, and the book focuses on the new Rorschach in town. With the exception of the final scene, Doomsday Clock #1 isn’t so much a crossover, but Watchmen II. It takes its times and gives readers a flavor of Moore and Dave Gibbons’ even more dystopian universe and kicks the plot into gear in a way similar to the back half of the original series than the initial investigation into the Comedian’s death. (Edward Blake would probably appreciate the opening riot scene though.)

Writer Geoff Johns does a pretty fair impression of the smelly, ink blot mask wearing vigilante and adds a few wrinkles of his own like his willingness to compromise and throw his lot in with criminals “in the face of Armageddon”. Having a writer, who is mostly known for writing straightforward superheroes and space cops, go into a twisted not-so-Randian psyche, is a little awkward though, and seems like a kid in his father’s clothes than the ruthless prose of crime writer Brian Azzarello in Before Watchmen: Rorschach. This clumsiness fits into the story as Rorschach II has some of the same abilities as the original character like the ability to pull off a pretty decent prison escape, a prodigious stench, and paranoia (He’s one of the few characters in this universe who uses a “gas guzzling” car.), but he “breaks character” a lot and acts like an empathetic human being even to murderers. His secret identity is pretty obvious too thanks to a diversity deficiency in the original Watchmen

Artist Gary Frank’s pencils are incredibly detailed, and he doesn’t use a nine panel grid every page although he sticks to the three row setup of panels with the exception of the title. However, he creates the occasional symphony of juxtaposition like when the US government finally goes nuclear, and Rorschach does his prison break thing. Frank’s work is strong and unwavering, like the original Rorschach’s conventions, and for the most part, colorist Brad Anderson stays out of his way and lets his pencils shine. Anderson does have a couple tricks up his sleeve like color coding some panels to different characters, such as brown for Rorschach, gold for Ozymandias, and alarm red any time there’s a nuclear threat.

Johns’ use of alternate history elements in Doomsday Clock #1 are fairly on-the-nose as he turns President Redford into President Trump of the early 90s with his incessant golfing, ties to Russia and North Korea, obsession with a single news network, and polarization of political discourse in the United States. His sheer ineptitude (and invisibility) turns Ozymandias into a sort of sympathetic character even though he was responsible for so many deaths in the original Watchmen. Ironically, Ozymandias has the same mission: saving the world.

Gary Frank’s super close-ups of frightened human faces in the opening montage of Doomsday Clock #1 do a much better job at showing world that was already hell plunging into a deeper, darker circle of that hell than any faux Rorschach voiceovers and tacked on worldbuilding from Geoff Johns. You can see the slobber in the mouth of a rioter as he goes at a police officer with a broken bottle and shatters the glass in one of Ozymandias’ old buildings. In a clever twist, the bank of TVs with endless channels in Ozymandias’ lair is turned to one showing that his actions didn’t lead to a utopia, but a dictatorship. Frank is one of the rare photorealistic artists that doesn’t have any stiffness to his work finding a sweet spot on Scott McCloud’s “picture plane” and bringing humanity to characters that would be action figures or distant gods in other artists’ hands. This skill comes in handy when a certain character appears in the last several pages. He’s also fantastic with gestures, and Johns realizes this by including a mime themed supervillain in the story that is fairly grounded and very violent in the Watchmen tradition.

Doomsday Clock #1 shows that for better or worse, Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson are taking their time with their DC Rebirth/Watchmen crossover and spend time reestablishing and tearing down the world of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ comic before having Superman punch Dr. Manhattan or having Ozymandias and Lex Luthor swap plans for world domination over vodka sodas. Johns’ writing is awkward, but his plotting is focused and gets the proverbial clock ticking while Gibbons’ art is a real treat. Some parts of Doomsday Clock are pretty groanworthy, but others are pretty damn cool.

Story: Geoff Johns Art: Gary Frank Colors: Brad Anderson
Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Read 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

The Importance of Faithfulness in Comic Book Costumes

It wasn’t that long ago that the world’s first glimpse of a new superhero costume for a live-action project would premiere in, say, the pages of a fan magazine, or even an early trailer. Now, we live in a time when every major news outlet scrambles to score the first run of such an image. The recent debuts of Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman costume from Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Melissa Benoist‘s Supergirl costume from the upcoming CBS show got me thinking.

With so many examples of superhero costumes for fans to examine, which have been the most faithful to their four-color roots? And is there any connection between the loyalty of a costume to its source material and the quality of the adaptation; that is, do they go hand in hand? Let’s take a look through some of the most reverent examples and see what we can find. All of the costumes I considered for this article were from live-action projects, as animation doesn’t carry as many challenges for transitioning a costume. I also omitted CGI characters such as The Hulk and The Silver Surfer, since their creation was primarily digital.

685635SupermanChristopherReeve

1) Christopher Reeve as Superman, Superman: The Movie (1978): What better place to start than with an icon? While the suit doesn’t conform expressly to any one comic artist, it does replicate all the hallmarks of the widely accepted Superman look: spit curl, wide “S” on the chest, secondary yellow “S” on the cape, thin yellow belt with circular buckle, even the subtle “M” shapes cut into the top of the red boots. The thorough translation of that look, along with Reeve’s heartfelt performance, lifted Superman: The Movie to its status as both the first serious superhero blockbuster and the grandfather of the entire comic-book film landscape.

Andrew-Garfield-Spider-Man The_Amazing_Spider-Man

2) Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014): Another iconic hero, another familiar costume, though perhaps not from a film afforded the same affection as Superman: The Movie. Whatever your thoughts regarding Marc Webb’s second stab at Spidey, you have to admit that the costume is hard to criticize. It’s all there, as if he just swung in from an early Stan Lee/John Romita Sr. issue: the rounded white eyepieces (not pointed; a detail that bugged me about the Raimi films), the bright blue and red in their classic configuration, even the black web-rings that encircle the web-slinger’s fingers. If anyone ever thought that the Spider-Man costume wouldn’t work on film as is, here’s proof to the contrary.

CAPA011_covcol captain-america-the-winter-soldier-poster-sebastian-stan

3) Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014): A more recently created character, but another successful translation from page to screen. The Winter Soldier springs from the mind of Ed Brubaker into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, complete with metal arm and a half-mask that makes him look like a Cobra trooper. The comic design of the Winter Soldier already lent itself to cinematic copy, and the recent debut of the character allowed much of the general audience to experience the character on film without prior knowledge.

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4) Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman (1975 – 1979): Much like Christopher Reeve’s super-wear, this costume was a crystallization of Wonder Woman’s history of slightly modified battle attire (sometimes shorts, sometimes a skirt, etc.) by cementing the “swimsuit” style look in the public’s mind. Like Reeve, it helped that Carter was a solid physical match for the character. This is generally what springs to mind when one thinks of WW: golden tiara with red star, gold and red top, blue star-spangled lower piece, bullet-stopping bracelets and striped red boots. While the show suffered from an overabundance of camp and the absence of a generous budget, the costume would continue to appear in much the same form across multiple media formats for decades.

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5) Robert DowneyJr., Iron Man, Iron Man (2008): An instant classic. Utilizing Adi Gradov’s Extremis-era armor design from the comics (which made sense as Gradov worked as a concept artist on the film), the Stan Winston Studio delivered a detailed, believable armored battle suit that filtered the multitudes of Iron Man suits into a crowd-pleasing singularity. Bonus points for the design of the Mark 1 armor, capturing the DIY feel of a clunky, first-draft walking tank with panache. A rare example of all elements of a film working together to produce something special and unexpected.

4336738-art10 The-Crow-brandon-lee

6) Brandon Lee as The Crow, The Crow (1994): While admittedly a relatively simple look to replicate on film, the late Brandon Lee’s striking performance leapt out from behind the rage-mime makeup to create a truly memorable character: raw, emotional, caring and vengeful. The unadorned black clothing kept the focus on the power of the character and his mission while satisfying the fans of James O’Barr’s graphic novel.

Rocketeer_Flying the-rocketeer82120125

7) Billy Campbell as The Rocketeer, The Rocketeer (1991): Such a period-evocative costume design that feels as if it could only have exploded out of the 1930s, yet Dave Stevens’ high-flying aviator first appeared in 1982. Disney’s 1991 film followed Stevens’ lead exceptionally well, nailing the thick-buttoned leather jacket, jet pack, puffy pants, boots and that Art Deco helmet that looks like Dr. Fate’s blue-collar cousin. This adherence to Stevens’ design helped the film achieve its rollicking derring-do and high adventure as an energetic throwback to the early days of cliffhanger serials.

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8) Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider (2007): Ghost Rider’s costume design isn’t necessarily the most eye-popping, from the neck down. From the neck up, well, it’s just hard to beat a burning skull that can talk, laugh and spew brimstone. But the filmmakers did an admirable job of equipping that flaming skull with all of his comic-accurate accoutrements: lots of leather (with buttons that transform into metal spikes), a long length of lethal chain, and of course, that seriously intimidating bike. While the film may have stumbled with wild shifts in tone, the look of the main character was handled with aplomb.

Hellboy_The_Wolves_of_St_August Ron Perlman stars as Hellboy. Photo credit: Columbia TriStar Films

9) Ron Perlman as Hellboy, Hellboy (2004): A great example of an above-and-beyond creation of costume design. The Hellboy design team, under the direction of Guillermo del Toro, duplicated Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comic design even down to the underbite that gives him that tough-guy profile. The devil’s in the details: the filed-down horns, the symbols cut into his skin, the worn duster jacket, and of course the Right Hand of Doom. The character’s relative human-like size allowed practical effects to create him believably in live-action, as opposed to Michael Chiklis’ Thing in Fantastic Four, who was rendered much smaller than his on-the-page counterpart. Coupled with Ron Perlman’s surly yet lovable performance, Hellboy translates improbably well into our world.

2002920-watchmen_window_rorschach Rorschach

10) Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, Watchmen (2009): Aside from the shifting mask, the rest of Rorschach’s ensemble may seem a bit pedestrian. But this one’s all about the little touches: broken belt loops, old bloodstains; all the effects of an obsessive crime-fighting mission on a man without Bruce Wayne’s resources. This wear and tear, combined with Haley’s mastery of the character’s objectivist rage and bulldog tenacity, made Rorschach as much of a standout in the film as he was in the graphic novel.

 

Now obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list, or even particularly ranked on a subjective scale of comic-faithfulness. It’s simply my opinions regarding the examples that bridged the visual gap between comic and film in the best way. But within these picks there seems to be one through-line that pertains to the best examples: attention to replicating a character’s costume usually runs parallel to attention paid to the character’s inner workings and personality. Not always the case (Ghost Rider may be an exception) but many times a commitment to the legacy of a character’s outside equals a respect for the character’s inside.

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