Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Talent Showcase #1 Review


Final Exams

Written by: Michael McMillian, Hena Khan, Joëlle Jones, Emma Beeby, Vita Ayala, Adam Smith, Chris Sebela, Erica Schultz and Michael Moreciū
Art by: Khary Randolph, David Messina, Sonny Liew, Juan Ferreyra, Barnaby Bagenda...
Cover Price: $7.99
Release Date: November 30, 2016

Annuals Week is a weird one around the Weird Science Clubhouse.  On one hand it gives us a bit of a rest, but on the other hand, the books are sometimes not the greatest.  Well, DC has stepped up their game and given us something completely different...the New Talent Showcase!  Sure, it may feel like you're dropping eight bills to read a bunch of final exams, but I love the idea.  Like Kool & the Gang sang, it's fresh and exciting and that's a-ok to me.  So, let's dive into it and find out the good, the bad and the ugly of it all...




Constantine in "The Road To Hell and All That"

Written By: Adam Smith
Art By: Siya Oum

For our jaunt into the world of John Constantine we have a little story about the lengths that John will go to try and not be such a piece of shit, but ultimately........ like every other time John tries to do something right, it's just not up to snuff and our pseudo hero comes off looking like an ass.  You see, John has a fight with Zatanna about going to her father's funeral and to make things right, John goes and finds himself a way into hell so that he can bring her old man home.  Too bad that John spends days upon days having a bender at a demon bar only to find out that Zatarra doesn't want to go back because he damned himself and damned his daughter as well.  So yeah, in the end, John comes up empty and has to make sure that Zatanna doesn't end up the way her father did, all without having the benefit of telling her all he would do to try and make things right.  This is a pretty standard kind of Constantine story, where we see John drink and come up with bad ideas, but it still has a bit of heart to it.......... as much as it can really for such a short story and thankfully the art was great.  

7/10







Wonder Woman in "Blood and Glory"

Written By: Vita Ayala
Art By: Khary Randolph, John Rauch

Right off the bat this short really pushes my continuity buttons because while we're dealing with "The Lies" in Wonder Woman right now, this story seems to be all about Wonder Woman's time as the God of War as she takes down mythological beings, with the Flash showing up for some comedy relief.  Now, if it wasn't bad enough having Wonder Woman being the God of War here........ which I could go with if I just told myself over and over again that it was just something from before Rebirth, it goes a step further to drive me crazy by having Wonder Woman call The Flash, Wally.  Yeah, it's allover the place and I guess continuity doesn't matter, but what this issue really does is make me intrigued by Khary Randolph's style for these characters and also seeing how well Vita Ayala set up a story that I wouldn't mind continuing reading.  


7/10








White Lantern in "Dead Beacons"

Written B: Michael Moreci
Art By: Barnaby Bagenda, Romulo Fajardo Jr.

This story is a bit of a mixed bag for me because when we start we're seeing this over the top narration that's along the lines of a Frank Laminski type story that we're dealing with in Green Lanterns and all we really get is the introduction to a bad guy N'Thall........ and that's about it.  It isn't until we head on over to a planet in danger that this story picks up and we get to see Kyle Raynor and Carol Ferris fighting off threats like they've never missed a beat from Green Lantern: New Guardians.  This second half to the story was great and felt perfect for the characters.......... It's just that the first half wasn't great and the art for some reason just wasn't up to par with what we get once our heroes show up and start kicking ass and taking names.  More than anything this story made me miss the ongoing adventures of Kyle and Carol and it makes me want more, just not if it's anything like the first half.

6/10









Hawkgirl in “Weapons of War”

Written By: Erica Schultz
Art By: Sonny Liew

I fairly tidy little teaser that introduces Hawgirl, establishes her character and motives, and provides a little cliffhanger to pique your interest. Seems here she is Thanagarian Shayera Thal, somehow stuck on Earth and masquerading as Detective Shayera Hall of the “Weird Weapons Squad.” This puts her in the unique position to round up any stray Thanagarian weapons that find their way to our planet, and plus gives her ample opportunity hang around her partner Detective Cariad and have to hide her secret identity. Unfortunately, according to some four-armed Hawkgod that’s beating Shayera to paste, her weapons collection has made it to the streets! A solid bit of story telling with no wasted panels. I’d be interested to read more of this.

8/10








Deadman in “Killing Time”

Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: David Messina
Colorist: Moreno Dinisio

If you’ve never read a Deadman story and want to know more about the character, then this is a fine place to start. Extant Deadman fans, however, won’t get a lot out of this primer. It explains everything: his abilities, his atonement, his direction by Rama Kushna—and a curious implication that other spirits resent Deadman because he’s got the ability to take over bodies of the living. It ends with a little story tease, but it’s not really super compelling. This is more like a snippet of what a Deadman series could be like, and not an intrinsically memorable story by itself. David Messina’s spectacular artwork does a lot of the heavy lifting on this.

6.5/10








Wonder Girl in “Digging Up Demons”

Written By: Hena Khan
Pencils By: Emmanuela Lupacchino
Inks By: Ray McCarthy
Colors By: Tomeu Morey

Some stories are built meticulously, bit by bit, into a solid wall of detail and intrigue. Other stories open with an action scene and fill in the details like a backhoe shoving a pile of loose bricks into a hole. Cassie Sandsmark, daughter of archaeologist Helena Sandsmark, became Wonder Girl when she stole some ancient armor from her…boyfriend? Diesel, who was also trying to steal it. This has made her susceptible to all manner of old-timey spirits and haints and such, and so is her lot as a blonde-haired plucky girl carousing around the Middle East. The way this story is told, however, is like something written in the dark. No surprise that the work by the art team is phenomenal, but this one had some plotting problems.

5.5/10









Catwoman/Wonder Woman: The Amazonian Job

Written by: Emma Beeby
Pencils by:  Minkyu Jung
Colors by: Trish Mulvihill

This is a very quick read that looks great and is also a setup for big things to come...maybe. Emma Beeby kind of shows that she has a grip on the characters, but just doesn't get the page count to do much with them.  It's Selina and Diana against the gods, the Amazons and...well, that's about it.  I really wish there was more because I like it as a setup, but without any payoff whatsoever, I find it very hard to give it top marks.  Actually, I am finding it hard to give it any score, but we'll have to settle for a...

6.0/10







Superman in "The Man in Black"

Written by: Michael McMillian
Art by: Juan Ferreyra

After a very intriguing opening showing that Clark wasn't the only visitor to Earth back in the day, we get what starts as a fun, little Lois has been Jokerized story that starts to feel bigger than I first expected.  It's Pre-Flashpoint Superman complete with wife and son and he has a new power and the story seems to play around with the whole "three Jokers" thing a bit.  Nothing is resolved, but it all ends with the Joker in Smallville and that's a pretty cool setup, if you ask me.  I loved Juan Ferreyra's art as usual and while the story is just a beginning, we get enough for me to be very, very interested in seeing more.


8.0/10




Harley Quinn in "Good Morning, Gotham!"

Written by: Joëlle Jones
Art by: Sam Lotfi
Colorist: Pete Pantazis

Joelle Jones gives us a story that has explosions, a decent rogues gallery and a little bit of Harley.  There are riots in the streets and Harley seizes the opportunity to cause her own brand of trouble in Arkham and it leads to...not much at all.  After reading it, I can't say that I think that Jones has a great grip on the character because there just wasn't enough here, even though she gets one of the larger page counts in this showcase.  To top it off, I don't think that Sam Lotfi's art is a great fit for the character and I was left with an tidbit of a story I don't care to continue with.

5.5/10




Bits and Pieces:

While it's nice to see new faces and mix up the Annuals Week format a bit, this New Talent Showcase falls a little short of the mark.  In general, the art is great, but the compressed nature of the stories doesn't let the writers (or readers) get comfortable with what's going on before they are spirited away to the next one.  It's not a missed opportunity, but it certainly could have been a whole lot better.

6.6/10
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4 comments:

  1. I'm surprised. This is the second of two reviews I've read now that didn't seem to notice how neat it should be seeing Bagenda drawing Kyle Rayner again. Didn't this site love Omega Men?

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    Replies
    1. I think most people here were fans of Omega Men. I was not though and while the second part of the story featuring Kyle and Carol looked great, the first half was just "meh"

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    2. I liked Omega Men...It's okay to see Bagenda drawing Kyle Rayner, but this whole thing is about the writers and the stories. I actually wish DC would have also grabbed some "new talent" on the art side of things...the Bagenda bit almost seemed like a bait and switch to me.

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    3. All the artists were from the same batch of new creators, including Bagenda. That's why Omega Men was his first big project.

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