Eve L. Ewing’s script attempts four impossible things at nice and manages all of them. The first is to re-introduce RiRi and her world. The second is to set her up as a character in her own right. The third is to establish an ongoing plot and the fourth is to build all of that back into Riri’s past. She manages all those things and makes each of them look effortless. The opening two scenes in particular are a textbook example of how to change gear in a story like this. The opening montage has Riri flying over her world. The scene immediately after has her frantically busking as her M.I.T. Lab is gatecrashed by luminaries.
Oh and those luminaries in turn lead into the ongoing plot, which has Riri clash with a villain she has a surprising amount in common with. That fight in turn leads her back to her past and the issue closes with that past providing a possible solution to a problem she notices in the fight. It’s wonderfully tidy, end to end storytelling, every beat informing and building on every other one. it’s also funny, sweet and very clever. This is GOOD stuff.
That quality is further built on by Kevin Libranda and Luciano Vecchio whose clean lines embody both Riri’s enthusiasm and her futuristic aesthetic. That art is expertly shown off by Geoffo’s layout work and Matt Milla’s colours give the book a bright, clean look which matches it’s tone perfectly. Rounded out by typically great work by VC’s Clayton Cowles on lettering and production this is a fun, clever, smart debut for one of Marvel’s biggest new stars. Ironheart’s here and she absolutely deserves your attention.
Over on the other side of the street, DC’s big story to round out the year hits its third issue and some interesting ground. Heroes in Crisis impressed me with it’s first couple of issues, following an apparent spree killing at a neutral counselling facility for meta-humans of all alignments. This third installment, ‘Master of the Lagoon’, has taken some flak since release for three problems. There’s a perception the book is running in place, a worry that the deaths are being sensationalized and also a growing suspicion that the book is toying with issues it doesn’t understand and can’t explore properly.
I don’t agree with any of those. Quite yet. There is definitely a sense of the book orbiting the murders, as we see even more victims this month, but that’s pretty much a necessity for a story like this. Plus, what’s we do get, especially Lagoon Boy’s scenes, show us not only what Sanctuary is intended to do but the damage it can be used to inflict. Wally West and Booster Gold’s scenes land less well but continue to give us vital information. Sanctuary has a two tier structure. Sanctuary uses masks for people who still want to maintain their identity. Sanctuary pulls no punches at all in its therapy. The deaths, viewed in that context, are less sensationalized and more witnessed. There’s an air of funereal inevitability and menace to the book that’s unlike anything else and I really hope it ends up being for good reasons.
Finally, it seems early days to criticize the book for it’s portrayal of mental heath issues, especially as it seems likely that neither of the two prime suspects were responsible for the murders. Make no mistake, the book does need to pick up the pace but it’s not in trouble yet. Tom King’s work is structurally rock solid, Clay Mann and Lee Weeks’ art is painfully human and Tomeu Morley’s colour are the most naturalistic I’ve seen in a long time. Troubled? Maybe. Impressive, without a doubt.
Finally this week, The Warning from Image comics. Created, written and drawn by Edward La Roche, the book follows the officers of Gladiator TwoSix, a unique military unit dedicated to facing extra-terrestrial threats. La Roche walks us backwards from the moments before an engagement with the enemy to first contact. Along the way he touches on the logistical nightmare of bringing a unit to life in days, the human cost and the inter-officer rivalries in the team. All of which is portrayed with clean Iines and stark illumination. Brad Simpson’s colour help massively too, landing somewhere between Michael Mann and Wally Pfister in terms of style. James Reed’s letters ensure that the clipped precise dialogue everyone has is clearly delineated and you never lose sight of who’s speaking.
If there’s an issue here it’s the format. This is a novelistic comic, a deliberately serialised approach and month to month that means it may take a while for readers to bed in. Likewise if the entire book is as cold and bleak as this first issue then that may also hurt the audience. But if you like that kind of style, and I certainly do enough to pick up another issue, then this is well worth your time.