Hobby Hole: Sept. 25, 2013 Comic Book Reviews (Image Comics)

Note: Because of the gluttonous number of comics released this week, I didn’t have time to read all of the books yet. Part Two, containing DC and Marvel reviews, will be published later this morning.

East of West no. 6 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta | Image | $3.50

This issue was broken. That's the best I can describe its rampant, almost haphazard structure. Even looking past the vague language I always hope will no longer plague Hickman's books but which inevitably amasses like an ugly tumor on even the most entertaining plots, there's little this issue that's actually clear.

For instance, the opening action scene, already somewhat incoherent due to the art, which saw a significant drop in quality this issue, is horribly difficult to fully comprehend. Without any expository descriptions, I was left wondering if the briefly appearing monster was a creation of the sand or a result of the otherworldly creature's injury/absorption. A product of both? It's never clear.

Still, even that obscurity could have been forgiven if the remaining pages were strong. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case as it felt like a second, entirely different comic had been shoved into the center of East of West. Though the story within was entertaining to a point—it read very similarly to a Judge Dredd prequel—only the book's ending clarified its purpose and only after a rather jarring transition.

Yeah, I think I'm done.

Hobby Hole score: 4.6/Bad

Jupiter’s Legacy no. 3 by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely | Image | $2.99

Mark Millar gets a lot of flak. Somewhat deservedly, it's true, but this issue of Jupiter's Legacy perfectly demonstrates how he's been able to capture the attention (and wallets) of such a large audience over the years. Because, my reaction after reading this?


Having grown tired of Millar's typical antics, I dropped his books somewhere within Nemesis without much concern and, since then, have somehow forgotten just how brutal he can be. The scenes in this issue, which is drawn beautifully by Quitely, may be some of the worst he's offered, though I don't mean that in a bad way at all. Cranking up the physical violence while being incredibly mindful of the mental repercussions (something his books typically lack), this may be the best issue he's ever delivered.

I won't spend too much time on the art. Just know this: it's positively gorgeous. I mean, damn. It's well worth the two month wait between issues, which, in itself, is quite refreshing in an age of double shipping and filler artists.

Hobby Hole score: 9.6/Fantastic

Saga no. 14 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples | Image | $2.99

Whenever I read Saga, I'm reminded just how grateful I am that not every comic currently on the stands is filled with superheroes. Sure, there's a guy running around the book with a mask and cape (not that he necessarily wears them), but this series is so above and beyond anything I've read from the Big Two that they simply can't compare.

There is no fighting this issue. There are no villains delivering overt threats or cheesy one-liners. For the most part, the issue is, to borrow a phrase from Bendis-haters, "talking heads."

Yet, I was absolutely enthralled.

It's a testament to Vaughan (and Staples, who continues to deliver some of the most outstanding and lively art available) that the characters feel so real and finely crafted. Fourteen issues into the series and I feel more familiar with them and their motivations than any X-Men, though only now do we meet, or even hear word of, Alana's mother.

Even a little slave girl, having just learned her name, manages in one page to convey something special, something pure and unique and heartfelt that is rarely found in comics. And though this issue's bookending splash pages were somewhat uninspiring and the cliffhanger simply lackluster, I can't wait until the next time I get to visit this incredible world.

Hobby Hole score: 9.3/Fantastic

Sex no. 7 by Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski | Image | $2.99

Immediately following my read-through of this issue, I declared it my "second to last" for the series, as I felt it important to at least see the arc through to its conclusion (an ad in the back of the book teases the first trade paperback, which will collect issues no. 1-8). After sleeping on it, though, I've decided I'm done as of this issue. No more Sex for me.

It's not that this series is terrible. I'm sure, for the right person, seeing oodles of loosely defined naked bodies is enough thrill to keep them coming back month after month. However, in recent issues, and this one in particular, the sex of Sex has felt far more gimmicky than beginning issues, where, at least in regard to the plot and especially in service to developing the setting, it seemed important.

Now, it's as though the characters can only resolve matters through sex. It's become the equivalent of mainstream books' fisticuffs—mostly without the witty dialogue. And it's not enjoyable, at least to me.
Were sex no the book's main drive—that is, where the characters developing stories and plotlines of their own accord not inundated with sexual imagery—a fine balance could be maintained and Sex could be a top contender. As it is, Sex is just as tiring as most other mundane comics.

Hobby Hole score: 5.8/Forgettable
Previous issue’s score: 6.7/Meh